Operational Transparency

by Ryan W. Buell

BARCLAYS BANK INSTALLED the world’s first successful automated teller machine to much fanfare in June 1967. Having a machine distribute cash was less expensive and more efficient than having a human teller do it. What’s more, customers could access the ATM at any hour—even when the bank was closed. It seemed like a win-win, and ATMs quickly spread around the world. Today people are three times more likely to withdraw money from an ATM than from a human teller.

However, there’s a wrinkle to the ATM success story. When customers use ATMs more and tellers less, their overall level of satisfaction with their bank goes down. It turns out that when consumers can’t see the work that’s being done to serve them, ...

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