February 13, 2009

It's pretty straightforward to make a business case for green initiatives in this economy. It sends a positive message to the marketplace and can work to your advantage when you roll out new products and programs. The business case focuses on ways that consumers can change their behavior in small ways (i.e., going electronic to reduce paper and reduce the carbon footprint).

Last year Citizens Bank introduced Green$ense, a program that rewards its retail banking customers with cash for reducing paper-based transactions. We've also implemented business intelligence solutions to measure how our customers do their banking -- using their debit card, paying their bills online and more. IT found solutions to provide granular information on customer bank use.

Green initiatives become a partnership between business and IT; the two must work together to build these new programs. IT has been thrilled with us because our green programs reduce the number of statements they have to send out. They're in the business of pleasing our customers as well.

The key is what's good for the environment, what's good for the company in terms of reducing costs and what gives you the ability to expand your business by meeting your customers' needs. The green projects and initiatives that are worth doing are those that can meet all three criteria: good for the environment, reduce costs and enable us to grow our business because we're meeting a real customer need.

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Theresa McLaughlin, Citizens Group EVP and Chief Marketing Officer, Citizens Bank
Rodney Nelsestuen, Research Director, Financial Strategies and IT Investment, TowerGroup
Geoff Greenwade, President and CEO, Green Bank
Patricia M. McGinnis, Research Director, Corporate Banking, IDC Financial Insights