Bank of America TV
The Bank of America near my home has a new facelift. They’ve replaced the old ad hoc stanchions for queuing with more substantial metal and glass barricades, and installed new carpetting, but the most obvious change is the addition of three new widescreen TVs above the row of tellers and a huge screen at the far end of the lobby.
Stefan Thomke wrote about Bank of America’s initial experiments in this area back in 2003 in the Harvard Business Review in R&D Comes to Services:
Psychological studies have revealed that if you distract a person from a boring chore, time seems to pass much faster. So the team came up with a hypothesis to test: if you entertain people in line by putting television monitors in the “transaction zone” — above the row of tellers in a branch lobby — you will reduce perceived wait times by at least 15%.
Using television to ameliorate a long wait isn’t a new idea. Wells Fargo has been doing it for years and it’s a staple of airports and supermarket checkout lines. But Bank of America’s execution is particularly nice.
After my transaction, I decided to examine the TV programming more carefully. The TVs are silent most of the time, with light jazz playing instead. They switch between several minutes of silent advertisements for bank services (with surprisingly nice kinetic typography), silent inspirational footage (Olympic events, etc) and then a minute or so of CNN at regular volume. It’s a huge improvement compared to the incessant and inescapable drone of CNN in airport lounges everywhere.