Lloyds TSB – using visualisation to change behaviour

March 16, 2009

The other day I popped into my local branch of Lloyds TSB and saw this next to the ATM:

Picture 166

Taking a closer look:

Picture 165

A heatmap shows the busiest times for that particular branch, with a bit of analysis above to help people make sense of it and explain, for example, the grey block on wednesday morning (staff training day).

Short interview with the guys who put it up

This is very interesting – a bank visualising its data to change customer behaviour. Rebecca Reeves, the branch manager, was kind enough to answer a few questions about it:

Raphael D’Amico: Thanks for agreeing to explain this display a little bit. So, why did this start?

Rebecca Reeves: We noticed that we had both business and personal account holders coming in the lunchtime rush hour, even though business customers can generally choose to come at any time of the day. The idea behind this was to try to get our business customers to come by when the branch was quieter.

RD: How does it work? 

RR: It uses the transactions done in the branch. We record the data and a team at the head office feeds back these heatmaps.

RD: Is it just this branch?

RR: No, it is done across the country.

RD: Has it worked?

RRIt has actually. We started recording data about a year ago, and put the first heatmap on the wall six months ago. When we analysed the data again quite recently we saw that customer transactions were more spread out across the day.

In particular, it didn’t make that much of a difference to personal customers – they still came mostly at lunchtimes – but business customers did start coming more often at other times.

RD: How did you measure the improvement? Did you measure queue lengths, for example?

RR: Just by sight – the only formal measurement was the transaction data, which tells us the time and type of customer, for example.

RD: Thanks for your time.

Neat, but what could it do better?

This idea is clearly a good one and has worked, but there is as always room for iteration. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Make it bigger and move it slightly further from the cashpoint. Putting it next to a cashpoint is a good idea and gives it exposure, but the size and positioning means you have to be close to the wall to see it. This leads to two less than ideal situations:
    1) You look at it while taking cash out, which slows you down and makes people behind you wait.
    2) You take a proper look afterwards, which means you have to stand directly next to and very close to the next person taking money out, which tends to make both you and them uncomfortable. It is almost a social taboo to do this, and probably keeps a a fair few people away.
    A larger, more legible display would solve this.
  • Put it near to other queues in the branch, not just the ATM. The queue for the bank teller is longer than the one for the ATM, which would make customers even more receptive to this kind of display.
  • Measure how long you are actually taking to serve customers. While the transaction data is a good proxy, Lloyds should spot check exactly how long it takes them to serve each customer (how do they promise four minutes?). This may also allow them to segment their customers better – perhaps there are some transactions that are more time consuming and could be addressed in the heatmap display.
  • Show customers the changes. Showing people that this display has already changed behaviour may make it even more effective through social proof.
  • Share data. Comparing customer patterns across branches might reveal some good techniques they can learn from each other. I didn’t ask about this, so it could be that the branches already do this – I imagine the data analysis is centralised for this purpose. 

It’s really great to see a large organisation using this kind of technique (particularly a bank, right now!).

Are there other companies feeding the behaviour of their customers back to them?

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One Response to “Lloyds TSB – using visualisation to change behaviour”

  1. Leah Shanker Says:

    Wow, a bank actually considering usability instead of security lockdown? This is a welcomed change!

    On your point of distributing this information better: I also think a great place for this sort of information would be on the bank website. Maybe with a “current color”: If you head to the ATM right now, traffic will be Red, meaning high.

    I can’t help but think that the results may have been doctored to look like an 8-bit angry monster though 🙂


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