ATMs are handy, magic slot machines where you are always a winner. Push the buttons and the wall gives you money. Even so, they do not need to be your friend. The biggest culprit is WaMu. Can somebody please tell Washington Mutual to tone it back a bit and de-friendly their ATMs?
One of the basic tenets in interaction design is clear communication. Products should use wording that doesn’t make us stop to ask, what? And that means adopting a tone appropriate to the interaction.
For the last ten years or so, I’ve been complaining about Washington Mutual’s ATMs. They adopt a tone that’s overly friendly, so friendly that it complicates the relatively simple interaction of getting cash from the wall.
“Hi, how can I help you? Should we talk in…” We begin straight away in conversation mode. Ok, I get it. Washington Mutual’s brand is built on being friendly. A little over the top, but let’s see what happens.
“Please give me your secret code.” Saying “secret code” instead of PIN is an admirable way of trying to change the language of banking from archaic terms like PIN to something a little more everyday.
But whoa! “Please give me your secret code” sounds like the ATM itself is going to mug me. Now that’s efficient. The machine giveth and the machine taketh away.
“Sure” and “No Thanks”. This is what has bugged me for a long time. I’ve used Washington Mutual ATMs probably over a hundred times over the years, and yet I still hesitate at “sure” and “no thanks” even though I know it’s coming. Maybe I hesitate because I’ve trained myself to hesitate.
“Sure” is a term for casual conversation, but it’s interesting how really out of place it feels here. “No thanks” is a term of politeness, but does it occur to us to be polite to an ATM? Is this why this feels strange?
We expect interactions with technology to be more utilitarian. Yes. No. Cancel. Exit. Enter. Continue. Washington Mutual tried here to break this mold, but taking it too far makes it almost worse.
What do you think?