Royal Bank of Canada cashes in on Microsoft Surface for new retail experience

June 24, 2013

Breaking away from the stuffy bank lobby experience, Royal Bank of Canada said it wanted to create a welcoming, personal and informative experience for customers. Combining the retail shopping experience with financial services, seemed like the perfect match.

The inaugural 8,960 square foot store in Burlington, Ontario includes different kiosks with Microsoft Surface tablets where customers can learn about RBC products and services, help increase their financial literacy.

There is also a space for the kids where they can play with interactive puzzles on a massive 40-inch Samsung SUR40, Microsoft Surface tablet screen while their parents bank.

"One of the key objectives of our new retail store was to profile our Advice capabilities to all clients and encourage them to talk to us about their needs. The engaging large format Surface screen along with the magic of object recognition provides an interactive and approachable catalyst to start conversations," says Alan Depencier, Vice President of Marketing Services with RBC.

Making banking more immersive

RBC execs decided augmenting the retail experience with tablet computers offered a digitally interactive way to learn about finances. Customers could browse at their own pace and not feel pressured.

To create that leisurely browsing experience, RBC worked with Surface Strategic Partner Infusion Development to create five applications for Microsoft Surface. Arbie, an RBC animated character, guides people through various programs.

For example:

  • The Drop a Coin application graphically shows the value of the RBC Tax Free Savings Account compared with a standard savings account.

  • The Instant Win application invites people to drop a direct-mail brochure onto Surface for their chance to win a prize.

Early results are promising. The initial stores opened up with positive customer feedback. RBC employees say the Microsoft Surface experience has surpassed expectations.

For example, the Instant Win brochures were mailed to customers located near the new retail stores with an offer to visit the store for a chance to win a prize. Of note, there was a 10% response rate to the brochure activated on the Instant Win application. Previous direct mail response rates would have resulted in 2-3% response rates.

Using tablets also allowed RBC to measure what features customers most interacted with and where RBC could improve its messaging. All of the RBC tablets are locked down in a closed internet but include Microsoft’s Surface 2.0 software, Windows 7 Professional 64-Bit, Windows Vista Business, and Microsoft .NET Framework 4 software.

Following the retail openings in Burlington and Halifax, Ontario, RBC says it expects to open up further stores in Toronto this year.


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