Last Updated on 4 August 2008

Automated Teller Receipts (ATM) litter is a nuisance. More times than not, the area around an ATM looks like what’s pictured below… a carpet of discarded transaction receipts.

Do you even notice this anymore because it has become the standard appearance at ATMs?

The ATMs at my bank offer the option to view the balance via on-screen receipt without printing. Additionally, the machine asks at the beginning of the transaction “Would You Like A Receipt?” This way it doesn’t automatically spit one out at the end. I like that. It’s a great fix to the litter problem.

Check out the machine pictured below… Despite being in a high-traffic tourist area in Athens, there wasn’t a single receipt littering the ground. Not only does this machine offer the option of printing/not printing a receipt, but someone was smart enough to install a receipt trash can for immediate disposal Making the trash receptacle transparent, it is obvious that it is for receipts. Such a simple solution.

[click for detail view]

The Lesson

The dirt, trash, and clutter – realize it or not – affects the way we perceive the bank and/or the customers who use that bank. Just the same way your restaurant employee smoking in customer view, affects perception of cleanliness.

Marketing author, Tom Peters once said… “Coffee stains on airline seat trays make you wonder about airplane engine maintenance.”

As customers we agree with this.

But for some reason, as business managers, we pretend things like this don’t make a difference. They end up in our brand blind spots.

If you were to take a “fresh eye”s look at your business from the perspective of a first-time customer, what is your equivalent of ATM litter or dirty airline trays? Perhaps you can no longer perceive these things… Find someone who will be honest with you and will provide you with this perspective. It’s invaluable.

When they answer, don’t take it personally… just fix it.