One of the big retail stories of 1995 is the industry's continuing efforts get more customers to bank via automated teller machines and the telephone in order to reduce the high costs of delivering services through brick and mortar offices.

But the success of such initiatives depends heavily on knowing which customers are the most profitable. Yet the survey results show that many banks still have a long way to go on gathering and using customer profitability information.

Some 70% of U.S. commercial banks said they lack the ability to identify the top 5% to 10% of retail depositors who provide the bulk of their retail deposit profits. About the same number said they don't have the ability to know when a retail customer with multiple accounts or products closes one of them and to take proactive action to retain the remaining accounts. (See related story on page 10A.)

The good news is that more and more transactions are being conducted remotely by phone, ATM, or other electronic channel. A recent Deloitte & Touche survey projected that only 25% of all consumer transactions will be handled in the branch by 2000, down from 40% in 1993.

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