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Has Automation Changed the Demand for Bank Tellers?

In the age of e-commerce, there are few basic banking services a person can't do on their own. Need to pay a bill? Log in to your online account. Need to deposit a check? Go to an ATM. Need to send money to a friend? Use an online transfer.

The job of bank teller, or customer service representative (CSR), is changing in the new electronic world of banking.

Automated Tellers to Replace Personal Service?

Darlene Kunz is a teller at a credit union. She says the number of members she sees in person is down. People are choosing to use Internet banking, telephone banking, direct deposit services and ATMs for the services tellers have traditionally provided. "Tellers are becoming an obsolete thing," says Kunz.

Younger clientele especially favor modern alternatives, says Shruti Jumani. She works on the banking team for a securities company.

But Jumani says the older generation still prefers personal interaction.

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Automated services can annoy customers of any age. Many people get frustrated when they have to listen to long, automated menus for telephone banking.

Kunz says banks have suffered for their lack of personal service. But financial institutions continue to move towards automated service. They supply the technology and the customers serve themselves.

But Kunz believes that banks and credit unions will always want to provide some services in person. "People love it," she says.

Some people prefer to do their banking in person. And many businesses use banking services throughout the day.

"As long as there's cash to count from business, there's always going to be CSRs -- even though, with online banking, the need to actually go into a bank has decreased," says John Callahan. He works for a bank in Chicago.

Not All Banks Follow the Trend

But not all financial institutions are moving away from personal service. For example, TD Bank prides itself on being "America's Most Convenient Bank." It considers banking a retail business. That means the customer is king.

This bank provides online, ATM, telephone and other convenient services to serve customers. But it also offers seven-day branch banking with extended hours. And it encourages customers to come into the branch to do their everyday banking.

New Responsibilities for CSRs

"In my personal opinion, I do not believe CSRs will ever become completely obsolete," says Jumani.

When Jumani worked as a CSR, she was regularly trained on new products. The more products and services a client subscribes to, the more money the bank can make.

"CSRs are the face of any financial institution, and are the first point of contact for the majority of the clientele," she says. Clients often ask CSRs questions about the services available from the bank. CSRs with a strong knowledge of financial products and services can answer questions efficiently and accurately.

"Providing accurate information, or at least referring to the correct personnel, is a major service component of a CSR's job description," says Jumani.

Callahan agrees that the CSR often initiates the first step of the banking sales process. "It is very important for the CSRs to know their banking products because then they'll be able to identify certain client needs and then be able to suggest that the client sit down and meet with a banker," he explains.

Still a Great Entry-Level Opportunity

There are no official educational requirements for a CSR job. A young person could start the job after high school. It's a great job for students who want to get their feet wet in finances or learn more about the banking industry.

There are plenty of opportunities to advance within a financial institution. The CSR position is an entry-level job in the banking field. Callahan gained experience as a teller and CSR. From there, he was promoted to a consumer banker position.

Jumani used the experience she gained as a bank CSR to get a job with a securities company. She works on the banking team. They handle all the money going in and out of the company. The responsibilities are very similar to those she performed as a CSR.

"If customer service, personal interaction, problem resolution and a dynamic learning environment sound attractive, then a CSRs role is right for you," says Jumani.


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OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.