Many banks have too many staff in their branch operations and could save up to £50m a year through automation and self-service systems.
The gap between those banks that have become efficient through automation and those that have not is growing.
According to research carried out by Compass Management Consulting, the most efficient banks can operate branches with 30% fewer staff than the average. As a result they can save between £38m and £50m.
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The Branch Productivity - Decision Time report revealed that some banks are reluctant to introduce automation and self service because they fear the customer experience will be damaged.
"The branch networks of retail banks face two challenges in order to improve profitability: they need to generate higher product sales and reduce the costs of routine transactions. Automation is a major driver of performance improvement in branches, but some banks remain cautious about the effect on customer experience in the quest for better productivity," said Paul Teather of Compass Management Consulting.
According to the report, while some banks remain reluctant to introduce self-service and automation in cheque processing and other areas, customer satisfaction levels can actually increase as a direct result of such initiatives.