A one-sided conversation

2 October 2014

United Kingdom

Mark McCallum

Glory Global


A recent psychological study concluded that ‘talking to yourself makes you smarter’ which must be a comfort to the average ‘blogger’.  The proviso is you have to speak respectfully to yourself and must not be over-critical, giving self-praise. I can live with that.

But what about talking to inanimate objects such as self-service machines? Do the same rules apply? I’ll confess I haven’t always been particularly respectful to my local ATM or to the self-service machine in the village supermarket. That said, I’ve also found myself mouthing ‘thank you’ when my change is dispensed and have then surreptitiously glanced over my shoulder to check in case anyone else has noticed.

Of course technology is fantastic when you can operate it properly, but we’re all fallible. When it comes to self-service what I’d really like is someone physically on hand so I could say ‘look is it me or is this machine stupid?’ – and I suppose I’d also want a respectful reply in the not unusual event that the answer is ‘it’s you’.

Sometimes we all need someone to talk to and the fast evolving automated bank branch environment is no exception.  New research commissioned by Glory shows that 93 per cent of respondents feel frustrated by self-service technology’. At the same time, 31 per cent of people never use self-service technology in the branch and the most commonly cited reason is a preference for speaking to a staff member.

For banks wishing customers to transfer to lower cost channels the lesson is clear, what many customers want is the opportunity to perform self-service transactions, but with the safety net of someone ‘on hand’ to help should they experience any difficulties?

Talking to yourself may ‘make you smarter’, but it can also be a frustrating experience when you just don’t know the answer to your own question. In these (of course) rare circumstances, how much more rewarding it then is to speak to someone with relevant information. Glory’s research shows that for 30 per cent of people, having a staff member on hand would make them more inclined to use self-service for more complex transactions, such as loan applications.

Then of course having successfully completed the transaction you should congratulate yourself on having made a wise choice!

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