Alleviate the Burden of Tellers Counting Coins: How Automation Improves Customer Service

By Andrew Crowson | 19 July 2016

In the UK alone, there are almost 29 million coins in circulation. Even if these coins were removed from circulation tomorrow, processing them all would take a counting machine operating non-stop, at peak performance, almost 13 and a half years. What this shows us is that, despite the growth in popularity of digital payments, coins are still a prominent payment option for many consumers. For retail banks, who often have to differentiate themselves on customer service, recognising and embracing this is a critical ingredient of success. For instance, consumers find it much easier to carry, and spend, larger denominations. Many tellers and consumers know the pain of counting up the value of a jar of coin. Providing an easy-to-use service that automates this task is a key service for attracting and retaining customers.

Sorting through the coin deluge

In the customer-centric bank branch there is a strong case for allowing customers to change up their coins themselves. Automating the process means tellers only need to validate a receipt for the exchange or can even be removed from the process entirely. This not only frees up workers’ time, but also makes the counting process itself much faster and more accurate, speeding up customers’ journey through the bank. The same principle holds true for customers who want to deposit cash with the bank; by offering the option to either exchange or deposit coins quickly, easily and accountably, the bank can show an enhanced level of service.

Tackling currency fraud

One important role of retail banks is acting as part of the front line against currency fraud; it’s much more effective if fakes are spotted and removed from circulation before they make their way to the cash centre to be processed, or even worse are returned to the public. Coins are perhaps the most challenging aspect of this role. Quite simply, smaller denomination counterfeit coins will often fall through the cracks, thanks to being notoriously harder to spot. For instance, a fake 50 pence or quarter will be much more likely to pass unnoticed. On the other hand, staff will be more aware of counterfeit notes, and closely scrutinise any that are handed over, especially if they’re of a higher value. Automation can benefit financial organisations here by reducing the risk of human error. A machine with the technology to identify and remove counterfeit coins will be much more likely to spot the tell-tale differences than a busy teller, and so remove it from circulation as soon as possible. 

Pick your place

In an era where cash is king, making the most of automated coin counters will help banks position themselves among the customer service royalty. However, benefits are not automatic: banks still need to consider exactly how and where they make use of machines. As in so many other situations, location is key; so that customers can easily use machines and have the smoothest journey through the bank. For instance, should machines be placed near ATMs as a complimentary service, or nearer tellers in case of any issues? The floor space that machines take up is another consideration, as the bank will want to ensure it has space for all the services its customers demand. Lastly, banks need to consider the actual performance of machines. If counting takes minutes instead of seconds, a potentially valuable service could instead turn customers away.

There is no suggestion of the end of coins on the horizon, so banks should be ensuring that their coin-using customers have the best customer service possible. Automated coin counting machines aren’t in themselves new, but the way in which banks use them can be the all the difference between success and failure. 

By Andrew Crowson, Managing Director, Cummins Allison UK.

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