Citibank Opens "Bank of the Future" in New York

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Way back in 2003, I worked on an Experience Audit for Chase Manhattan bank in partnership with Bulldog Drummond NYC. We had some great ideas in that presentation and actually opened the presentation with “Chase a Better Experience,” which was part of our thematic throughout the entire presentation which we called “Chase Me.”

For example, one of our ideas was the Chase Your Dream Machines. What we realized was that people didn’t know what bank services they needed, but they did know what they wanted to accomplish. So, the Dream Machine allowed customers to input financial “what if” information and see future possibilities. For example, a customer could query the device about investing $100,000 in a CD vs. a money market with an average return of X% and get hypothetical return on investment scenario along with possible recommendations on appropriate Chase products. The Chase Your Dream Machine could also package full-service programs that allow the customer to conveniently take care of items like home or auto purchases in one simple step. For instance, it could package an auto loan with On-Star, Insurance, Pre-approval paperwork and an address with specific sales referral to the nearest appropriate dealership.

Some of our ideas were pretty simple, like the Chase Blue Pages. This would be an exclusive listing service will be created to help Chase small business customers network with one another. This could be delivered in-branch at the small business area in a kiosk as well as on-line. Or the Swipe & Go Transaction, which would allow customers to swipe their Now Card, enter information and print forms or instantly transfer information to the next available teller for processing.

Given our work back then with multitouch technologies, we also recommended Interactive Windows, that would be utilized as interactive media screens or Dream Machines using projected interactive technology.

Sadly, we didn’t get a chance to execute any of our ideas, but 7 years later, Citibank has opened up a branch of the future. What I like about what they’re doing is that they’re turning the branch into a focal point for the community. Just yesterday, I was joking about how there was a Chase branch and a Starbuck’s on almost every corner in NYC and I didn’t know why they just didn’t combine them. Seems that Citi is realizing that they should offer their customers more then just basic banking functions at their branches.

Banks are in a very difficult position, especially at a retail level. They basically offer the same services that every other bank offers for pretty much the same price as everyone else. And most customers think that that the average bank puts itself ahead of its customers, so they don’t even have a positive emotional attachment with their customers.

But I think Citi’s heading in the right direction by creating a different branch experience. I’ll be in the city next week and I’ll make sure to checkout this new branch.

If you’re interested, click on the Chase Book link to see our full presentation that we made in 2003. And if you’re with a bank and like the presentation, give me a shout to see how I can help you with an experience audit.

The flagship branch that Citibank opened in New York’s Union Square today is a bit different from banks in its other locations.

Instead of picking up a paper brochure, patrons can use one of the six interactive sales walls with touchscreen capabilities to learn more about bank services. Instead of using deposit envelopes, they can use enhanced-image ATMs to deposit checks without them. And instead of waiting for business hours to speak with a customer service representative, customers can use a 24/7 video chat station in the ATM lobby.

The digital components of the 9,700-square-foot branch are based on technologies pioneered by Citibanks in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Some features of the new bank seem more suited for a cafe or a airport lounge than a bank. Customers can access free Wi-Fi (in a private seating lounge if they are Citigold customers), and “media walls” display news, weather, and information about Citibank. Atmosphere Proximity, Citi’s digital agency, also designed a chip with the bank’s social media team that accesses a special Foursquare feed. Whenever a certain amount of people check in to the branch, an “internal marketing screen” shows which users are inside the branch at that very moment.

“We want this branch to be more than just a bank,” Brad Dinsmore, Citigroup’s head of retail banking in North America, said in a speech at the opening ceremony. “We want this branch to be a place where customers view it as a hub, a center of the community, if you will. A place where they feel warm and welcome, that they can come in and experience our free Wi-Fi access.”

Citibank Opens “Bank of the Future” in New York.

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