Bank of America recently installed some new streetside ATMs at their Van Ness location here in San Francisco. Today, on my way home I noticed a man hovering around the ATMs with a nametag that read ATM Ambassador. After I finished my transaction I walked over and asked him why he was there. He explained that the machines were new and then pointed to a lady who was apparently confused by the new deposit protocol (no envelopes). He darted over to help and I took my leave.
As I walked home I thought more about it. Bank of America has a history of service innovation, but I couldn’t decide whether employee-facilitated ATM transactions were a step forward or a step back. Seems to defeat the purpose.
Either way it seems like there would be some thorny issues concerning how to insinuate an employee into an automated transaction without startling the customer. The standard banking “uniform” isn’t enough to distinguish employees on the street, and the nametag doesn’t project authority, especially from a quick glance over the shoulder as a strange man looms into your personal space. I wonder how often he gets maced?