I keep meaning to write this post every time I go to the ATM.
Depending on your bank, you may have used a modernized ATM, e.g. one that has no envelopes for deposits, but instead, scans your checks and cash to determine the amount you’re depositing.
Pretty good idea, right? Cuts back on the manual process of opening all those deposit envelops, removes the overhead cost to print and stock those envelopes, removes the need for deposit slips, etc.
The problem is how much time it wastes for the end user and creates frustration. Based on my very unscientific research, a deposit now takes 5-10 times longer than it did with the old, dumb ATMs. The low end is for single check deposit that the machine successfully scans on the first try.
The high end is for the intensely frustrating process of trying over and over to get the machine to read all the bills in your deposit.
I’ve had both experiences over the past few months. One time it took me nearly 10 minutes to get the ATM to read all the bills I had in a deposit. If you’ve ever fought a vending machine over a crinkled bill, you’ll know the feeling.
Compare this to the relatively low tech, but predictable experience with a deposit envelope.
Another observation about these new machines: they’re slow and require relearning. With an old ATM, you can predict which buttons to press because the flow is pretty much the same. Plus, the UI is entirely text-based and very responsive.
Not so with the new machines, which introduce new flows, more buttons, and GUI elements. All this makes for a slower experience, even for fast operations like quick withdrawals.
Longer session times means queues build up behind you at the ATM, which is never a good time.
This is yet another example of the sacrifice of efficiency for features. I saw this many years ago when I worked on implementations that replaced old mainframe-based CLI tools, designed for fast data entry, with new sexy GUIs.
An old friend of mine continues to use Pico (a Pine-based mail client) to read his email. Why? He long ago mastered all the keystrokes and can fly through mail, without any of the trappings of a GUI. Plus, CLI is just faster and will always be.
The recent upgrade of my Nexus S to Android 4.0.4 (ICS) is yet another example, at least for me. The phone app is constantly misbehaving, making the device a substandard phone. A bit odd for a smartphone.
The common thread here is devices trying to do too much. I understand why. The ATM offers to save the effort of filling out a deposit slip. The invoicing system offers more information on a single screen in a more readable format. The smartphone offers a rainbow of other functions.
They’ve all expanded to do more for the user, but in doing so, they’ve lost sight of the primary functions the user came to expect, the most critical of which is speed.
Performance is a feature, probably the most undervalued one of all.
Anyway, have you encountered one of these new ATMs? Thoughts?
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