Royal Credit Union (RCU) is a 24-branch credit union in Wisconsin and Minnesota that serves more than 150,000 members from its base in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. As a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative, RCU is committed to member service and to the communities in which it does business. Communications is an important part of member services and since 2004 StrandVision Digital Signage has been an integral part of RCU’s communications mix. Now, with several years of experience with electronic signage, RCU continues to expand and simplify its StrandVision Digital Signage network by turning to the StrandVision R360 Linux digital media player to drive its new signage.
Royal Credit Union was an early adopter of StrandVision Digital Signage. Over the years it has deployed the signage in 15 of its lobbies/teller lines and has integrated it directly into drive-up teller operations at eight locations. It will add eight more lobbies and additional drive-ups in 2014.
Its first expansion will include four lobbies and one drive-up. These locations will be the first to use StrandVision's new R360 Linux point-of-display digital media players. This change will simplify administration by eliminating Windows update issues and enabling closer integration with StrandVision's cloud servers to virtually eliminate maintenance issues.
The electronic signage is an important part of RCU's member communication and business marketing complementing its other marketing communications media. Most marketing campaigns developed by its advertising agency have a digital signage component that are produced in both wide-screen aspect ratios for the lobby displays and traditional television ratios for the drive-ups.
For example, RCU runs its TV ads on the digital signage lobby displays that have audio and is designing some ads with graphical elements that allow them to be shown over the drive-up monitors that do not have audio.
Also included in the digital signage network are other marketing communications campaigns supporting specific loan or savings products and offerings, community events such as the Holiday Toy Drive and member programs such as the Kid's Club.
RCU Marketing Specialist Lindsey Brantner is the content administrator for all of the electronic signage locations frequently updating all or selected screens from her office. The digital signage postings are mostly RCU-wide but the system can also post location-specific pages, such as branch anniversary announcements.
Commented Lindsey, "StrandVision is really easy to use and flexible. For instance, I can adjust the background music that comes with the signage - I love the holiday mix."
Since starting with a two-screen installation in Eau Claire in 2004, RCU has deployed StrandVision Digital Signage across its branch network in WI and MN, including drive-ups.
From the beginning, Bruce Lubinski, RCU Network Administrator and Server Engineer, has been responsible for the installations. Ongoing support is handled by the technical support department on a day-to-day basis.
Each electronic sign installation starts with display placement - typically a single 50" television behind the tellers is more than sufficient to handle the entire teller queue. In some cases, the signage extends beyond the customer queue: "The one in Chippewa is not only visible to the teller line it can also be seen from the street," Bruce explained. "It's almost like having an outdoor digital sign right at the traffic light."
Each display is connected to a player PC located in the data room in the branch. Previous installations used VGA connections with distribution amplifiers for long cable lengths. New installations will be using HDMI since VGA ports on HD TVs are becoming a thing of the past. The HDMI connection will be converted to run over CAT-5 cables.
Past RCU installations used standard Windows desktop PC units as digital signage players to drive the StrandVision signage. The technical staff uses remote support software to access the StrandVision system PCs.
The latest installations will use new StrandVision Shuttle R360 Linux point-of-display digital media players to simplify installation and administration. They will automatically connect to a StrandVision Digital Signage host server in the cloud, log in using a preloaded username and password, initialize the connection and begin transmitting RCU's digital signage content in seconds.
The StrandVision digital media player, which improves performance and reduces bandwidth usage, is also capable of self-correcting most issues and automatically sends system performance updates and alerts to StrandVision and RCU's digital signage system administrators.
Audio for the lobby signage is designed to cover the waiting customer queue without disrupting staff or teller transactions. Typically, two speakers are recessed in the ceiling over the line. Sometimes four are used to maintain coverage at lower-volume levels. Occasionally, if the ceiling is high, speakers are suspended and, in a few cases, directional speakers are used. Bruce commented, "It works well with regular speakers so we rarely have to go to the extra cost of directional speakers."
Many of the branch locations also have drive-up teller services with a separate, non-audio StrandVision Digital Signage network to serve customers.
A dedicated digital media player, located in the data room, is directly integrated into the Hamilton Air drive-up kiosk equipped with an audio and two-way LCD video console using a standard RF converter. The system screen shows the teller whenever he/she activates the audio/video channel, and displays the digital signage content pages while the transaction is being completed and when the drive-up is idle between transactions. "The digital signage is on most of the time and I frequently see people really watching the screen while they wait," Bruce said.
"The StrandVision Digital Signage system works well. It's very stable and quite frankly, at this point, it just works," Bruce concluded. "New installations will come right up and it has a nice client interface that makes it easy.
"We've also been quite happy with Mike Strand and his company. He'll chat with you and is willing to consult for free. I recently spent time talking with him about our upcoming installations and he was very helpful."