Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Citizens-Charter One - Network Rollout

With "video merchandising" deployed in roughly 850 of its 1,600 total branches, until recently Citizens-Charter One maintained the world's largest financial services digital signage network. While the network has been profiled in a couple of different industry publications over the years, it origins have often been confused. It also merits re-visiting due to its sheer breadth, both in terms of size and usage, and the number of learnings that have come from it over the years.

The network as it exists today consists of two separate digital signage initiatives, assembled when Royal Bank of Scotland purchased Citizens Financial Group (RI), and later Charter One Financial (OH). Citizens had begun to deploy digital signage in their "NICE" concept branches and had built a network of roughly 75 locations, less than 10% of the total footprint. Charter One, on the other hand, had made the decision to use their "digital communications network" (DCN) as their primary branch communications medium, and had deployed it to their entire network of 650 locations.

Screens (generally 42") were located above the teller counter and on kiosks in the branch lobbies of Citizens' branches, whereas they were located behind the teller counter in most Charter locations, as well as in a large "feature wall" dioramma facing the waiting area and the lobby. Both banks, and especially Charter, also maintained in-store locations, where larger screens (up to 84") were frequently mounted on the exterior wall facing the checkout counter or toward co-located Starbucks locations. In both cases, the bank's conducted a number of tests in select pilot branches, with results indicating that:
  1. Improved the impact of promotional messaging (increased recall)
  2. Improved customer perception of key brand attributes
  3. Increased the number of products which could be put on display
  4. Reduced perceived wait-time and improved satisfaction

In terms of content strategy, in a recent interview, Bill Harrison, director of branch marketing for Citizens-Charter One, commented that the network is aimed at making a three-tiered impression on customers,

It starts with the brand. The first impression when people walk in is 'This is a nice branch.' Their second impression is 'This bank has everything I'm looking for today.' And their third impression is 'I need to go and check that out now.' This exhibits itself through brand spots, spots that show product breadth and spots that tell you what to do next. you need to give consumers enough content that it's...entertaining and worthwhile.

Based on a few select branch visits over the past few years, Citizens-Charter uses a roughly 15-20 minute playlist of 20-30 second spots, although the timing of the loop is deceiving as a number of key spots are repeated more than once. News, weather, and sports updates for 21 unique regions appear prominently in the mix, and I would say that brand interstitials are featured more prominently than in other, more promotional networks. In addition to customer communications, the bank also uses the network to reach its employees , delivering training videos, product launches, and other corporate communications before- and after-hours. Sound does not seem to factor prominently in the multimedia experience, although ambient music does play in the "NICE" branches, and I can remember seeing content in the old Charter One branches that included an audio track.

The Citizens "NICE" branches were originally designed by Lippincott, and employed Impart software and content services to manage the network. Charter One's branches were designed by John Ryan and managed using the company's ScreenRed software and content services.

(Photos taken from ScreenRed, Impart, and Lippincott websites, ABA Bank Marketing article)

1 comment:

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