ATM Observations

I’m writing to share a couple of observations about ATM machines.  As long as they’ve been part of our lives, it’s only in the last few years as a Bank of America customer that I’ve seen those products evolve.  Today, I observed a truly revolutionary modification that saves two steps in every cash withdrawl:

The entry of PIN number and selection of fast-cash amount were on the same screen.

In every previous interaction with an ATM, after inserting my card, I’ve been conditioned to (1) enter my PIN number, (2) click a button, (3) click a button for “Fast Cash,” and then (4) select an amount.  In today’s interaction, some significant experience design had been applied.  Though a single example does not demonstrate a pattern, I’d be willing to bet that my experience is not unusual: 99% of my transactions are fast-cash.  So today’s interaction was much much simpler: (1) enter PIN, (2) select fast-cash amount.  Choosing the fast-cash amount triggered the ATM to validate my PIN and dispense the cash.  That saved 2 steps, or 50% of the work required of the user.  Nice!

The only question I’m left with is: Why did this take until the year 2009?

Further, possibly because I was distracted by the unusually efficient interaction, I do not recall being forced to request a receipt.  In previous interactions I’ve been annoyed with BoA ATM machines that display a message “Retrieving preferences,” and then immediately ask if I want a receipt.  My receipt preference doesn’t change: I want one.  I realize the bank would prefer I do not, but their opinion is irrelevant.  If you’re going to store my preferences, and you insist upon asking me that question each time, the profile you’ve assembled is incomplete.  But as distracted as I was, I cannot swear that I did not have to answer that prompt: and believing I didn’t would be too impressive of an example of interaction redesign for me to handle.

How many more everyday interactions can be made dramatically better?


~ by John Peltier on December 22, 2009.

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