I lost my ATM card and that was a UX failure!

A few days back I was at the petrol station, trying to pay using my ATM card when I realized that it was missing. After googling through my memory, I found that the last use of my ICICI ATM card was at Federal Bank ATM near my home. The Federal Bank Employees told me that they never got the card and asked me to check the ATM itself.  Without hope, I went to the ATM and checked the premises but couldn’t find it.  Cursing my luck I picked my phone to call ICICI Bank to block my ‘stolen’ card, luckily I asked the nearby shop owner if he had seen an ATM card lying around.

He gives me my card and says, ‘Not just the money, your card is also important, keep it safe!’

I thanked him and returned home with a happy face.

This got me thinking about how I forgot my card in the ATM. I usually forget to take my wallet but never my card.  

Google tells me that there are a lot of people who went through the same after banks upgraded the cards to chip cards. But that is not the issue here, I have been using a chip card enabled ATM card for more than a year now.

Then what caused it? Humans err, why didn’t the ATM machine prevent me from making this mistake? Remember, if a sleepy passenger opens the door of an aircraft thinking that he is opening the toilet door, then it is not a human error, it is a design error! So let us explore if there is a design error in my ATM card situation.

This is the usual process of taking money from an ATM. 

Note that our primary goal is to collect money, not to keep our card safe. We assume that when that goal is achieved, the process is complete. I checked the process of the ATM withdrawal when I lost my card. There was a slight difference in the interaction. 

Here, we collect the money and then take the card. There is one step after we completed our primary goal. 

What do you think? Which interactions will keep your card safe? I vote for the first. I take my card before I get my money.

In the second process, the primary goal is achieved first and then I wait for the card. The chances of forgetting my card will be higher here.

There’s an interesting video by Mr. Joe Leech explaining a similar situation. Joe Leech is a UX and Product Management consultant based in UK. He is the author of the book Psychology of Designers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgiB8KhbGKY&t=763s (from 3:15 to 7:25) 

Unfortunately, in India, some banks use the first process sequence, and some use the second. It is a bit tricky to figure out which version is happening when you use a new ATM for the first time.

I agree that the banks have the authority to decide how their ATM should interact with people but they should consider the mental model of its users. 

Human expectation is “accomplish our goal at the last step”. In other words, the steps after our goal is achieved is not important to us. People find washing the dishes to be frustrating because the goal is to make/enjoy the food. Not washing the plates. 

Unfortunately, you need to wash your plates, there is no other option. But in this particular case of the ATM operation, there is no need to put one step after you accomplish your goal.

I hope people who design the UX of ATMs will consider this in future. 

About the author

Sreejith NP

Sreejith N P is a Lead UX Designer working in Expeed Software, Smart City, Kochi. He has strong application development and end-user interaction experience. He has designed various desktop, web, and mobile applications in his twenty years of career in the IT industry. He believes in looking at usual things with unusual eyes.

Categories:Guest Post