Citizens was seeking big change. They had identified over 800 branches that were either oversized, under-invested, or would need to be relocated and were seeking a new customer experience and a design program that would be highly modular and repeatable. Citizens challenged us—working in collaboration with technology partner NCR—to develop a fully modular solution that would allow Citizens to build more quickly, implement faster and with consistency, and be able to make physical adjustments to the space post-launch as needed to correct or evolve the branch program and business model.
We created a modular program for all the branch activities. In simple terms, in order to be able to change-over a teller today into an office tomorrow there must be a commonality on the size of the space and underlying system. We created a lexicon of all of their key program needs with an interchangeability between all the program pieces. That was the first challenge.
The second challenge was to develop a new experience program to engage with customers differently. Citizens had developed a new campaign and initiative to position their staff as your friend in the know on finances—that close friend you turn to when you have a financial question. We needed to create an environment for this relationship. The first thing we needed to do is arrest the customers attention and change their perception upon entry. And the second thing is we needed to provide the familiarity they expect of their local bank enhanced by the personalization of someone being there for them. As a nucleus for the new branch we created a “conversation starter” space—an area for customers to explore, relax, and that would prompt new conversations with staff. This space was the center of a new engagement platform that included different types of meeting spaces and a completely new look and banking experience.
The final solution was a fully modularized design solution with interchangeable parts. In complete, the entire fit-out was a kit of parts that was assembled inside a white box space. We worked with our fabrication partner, Boyce Products, who developed and engineered a modular construction system to our specifications. A full scale prototype of an 1800 SF branch was assembled on the second floor of one of Citizen Bank’s offices within a three week time span. The prototype was then used for customer feedback and staff training. Citizens Bank launched 12 new branches in the first year and continued their aggressive roll-out over the next five years.