Leading banks invest in sophisticated customer-facing audiovisual technologies to increase engagement and operational efficiency.
By Brad Grimes, AVIXA
Retail banks across the world and of all size are transforming their customer experience to capitalize on the popularity and familiarity of consumer technology.
With more than half of retail buying decisions made at the point of purchase, and nearly 30 percent of customers admitting that on-site digital signage can influence their decisions, banks are beginning to recognize what other retail markets have found: Customer engagement is a key component of a successful modern storefront.
Following the widespread adoption of mobile apps that allow customers to conduct everyday transactions, banks are now upgrading the audiovisual (AV) infrastructure of their physical branches to improve the more substantive conversations that are still best served by in-person meetings. Additionally, some banks are adopting new technologies to make physical branches more space-efficient and reduce overhead.
Doing More With Less
Citizens Bank of Rhode Island, a large U.S. retail bank with more than 1,200 branch locations and $5 billion in revenue, offers an example of how banks can adapt to changing consumer habits. In 2018, the bank began a multi-year overhaul that will see many branches shrink their footprint by up to 50 percent. As part of the project, Citizens Bank is working with AT&T and Cineplex Digital Media Group to outfit all of its branches with new digital signage displays and media players that help maximize customer messaging, improve cross-selling, and engender a community-center aesthetic by showcasing content customized to the local customer base.
Bruce Van Saun, Chairman and CEO of Citizen Financial Group, Inc., says the company-wide initiative includes redesigning many branches to have smaller footprints, with less space dedicated to transactions and more space for private rooms and conversation.
Although some banks have closed branches for financial reasons, Citizens Bank’s strategy represents a different approach with potential benefits, namely that customers can still have the face-to-face interactions they need, but improved utilization of space and technology can lower costs and boost cross-selling opportunities.
“There’s a little bit of pruning of the number of locations,” Van Saun says, “but the greater element of the program is trying to take 4,200-square-foot branches and turn them into 2,500 or 2,200-square-foot branches. By 2021 we will have gone through 50% of the branches as the target.”
The digital signage displays currently feature topics such as planning for retirement, managing student loans, and community-based activities, while also providing stock indices and local weather and news. According to AT&T, the result is a richer customer experience through next-generation features and new design concepts.
“We’ve provided technology solutions to Citizens Bank for almost two decades,” says AT&T’s Vice President of Global Business Financial Solutions Anthony Leggio. “Our world-class technology coupled with Citizens Bank’s outstanding products and services create a winning customer experience.”
A digital signage display can present far more information than a static advertisement, while using the same amount of physical space. Digital signage offers the ability to present multiple slides, scroll text, switch among promotional subject, and attract attention through changing images or video. In fact, a recent study by Capital Networks found that although static signage impressions drop off dramatically after the first day, digital signage retains a consistent engagement level. In response, banks have begun using adaptive and interactive AV technologies to engage customers and entice non-customers to see what the bank offers.
Creating An Interactive Storefront
Odeabank entered the Turkish market with a splash of color and outward-facing technology rarely seen in retail bank branches. In Istanbul, the bank’s flagship branch features unique curved architecture and an artful exterior, while the interior utilizes a range of audiovisual technologies including large touchscreen tables, tablets, interactive screens, digital signage, room-wide overhead LED tickers, and sophisticated customer tracking that targets its marketing based on visitors’ gender and age.
I-AM, the firm responsible for the flagship store’s architecture and interior design, set out to provide the most efficient and rewarding customer experience, using popular consumer technologies to put guests at ease and provide improved engagement.
Large-scale touchscreen displays in the 24/7 self-service lobby provide interactive applications that allow customers to get loan estimates and information about new products and options, while tabletop touchscreen displays inside the bank can entertain and inform customers. The bright, vibrant design creates excitement, and the constant motion from the digital displays adds to the bank’s energetic environment.
Like Citizens Bank, Odeabank has created more open space and designed its layout to promote customer conversations, while directing common, everyday transactions to ATMs or ITMs (interactive teller machines). The layout gives its digital signage and interactive displays greater reach, as customers move more freely through the branch’s open spaces and spend less time restricted to teller lines and desk pools.
A Top-To-Bottom Videoconferencing Experience
For many banks, audiovisual technology upgrades have pervaded the entire corporate environment, bringing new solutions to every level of the company’s operations. Videoconferencing plays a vital role in the daily operations of many corporate offices, reducing travel time and costs, expediting conversations, and helping increase efficiency while also providing more human-centered, face-to-face interaction.
Bank of America has put this audiovisual technology directly in the hands of consumers through its new Advanced Center, available at select locations. The concept is an employee-free branch featuring an ATM lobby, digital concierge, and private rooms equipped with on-demand videoconferencing systems.
The digital concierge automatically detects a customer’s arrival and instantly connects them to a bank employee located at a call center for addressing basic banking needs. This provides customers with fast service and a personal feel while using very little floor space.
The private rooms offer videoconferencing with local and national experts to discuss auto loans, mortgages, retirement, and more. With more than 300 Advanced Center locations currently planned, it is poised to become an important part of the bank’s retail presence.
Dominating the Conversation
Still other banks are reaching for the “wow” factor using audiovisual technology. Customers entering Bank of Hawaii’s flagship “Branch of Tomorrow” in Honolulu are greeted with a stunning 10-metre by 2.2-metre LED video wall with a 3mm pixel pitch that results in HD-resolution imagery — the type of technology usually found in stadiums, airports and along major roadways. The video wall, installed by Ford AV, creates a unique exerience in the main lobby, displaying captivating Hawaiian scenes interspersed with bank promotions and other marketing campaigns.
Bank of Hawaii is actively advertising its AV technology leadership. On the bank’s website, the company proudly states that “The Bank of Hawaii Branch of Tomorrow offers a 21st-century banking experience—including easy deposit ATMs, Wi-Fi, tablets, digital screens and a team of financial specialists—to support greater convenience and create personal interactions.”
All told, many banks are using customer-facing AV technology in bank branches to create a renewed sense of community and engagement often absent in silent queues, teller windows, and static wall advertisements. As the pace of technology continues to accelerate—introducing new means of communicating and conducting business—banks should be aware of their customers’ changing habits and how those habits can actually improve and modernize the retail banking experience. We live in a multimedia world, and all the digital screens can be seen as gateways to customers’ loyalty and attention. In-branch audiovisual experiences mean significant benefits for both banks and account holders.
Brad Grimes is Senior Director of Communications for AVIXA™, the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association. AVIXA represents the $178 billion global commercial AV industry and produces InfoComm trade shows around the world. For more information, visit www.avixa.org/bankAV.