Banc One Corp. is recalibrating its plans for deploying computerized telephones after a disappointing consumer response to a trial program, a bank executive said.
In the trial, which began at the bank's Dallas-Fort Worth unit in late September, customers were offered a range of home banking services, including bill payment, account inquiries, funds transfers, and home shopping, through telephones equipped with computer display screens sold by GTE for $150.
Some bankers felt the telephones would prove more attractive in the Bank One trial than they have in other attempts by banks, because the telephones were less expensive than those offered by others - some of which have been as high as $700.
Screen telephones were also considered an alternative to home banking via personal computer, but the test found that consumers said they might prefer a PC-based system.
Still, customers objected to the price, said Fran Clarke, vice president of product management at Bank One in Dallas. Bank One sent out direct mail promotions to 150,000 of its customers who held at least one active debit card, but the response was "less than what you'd call a typical direct mail response. The market niche is smaller than we anticipated," Ms. Clarke said.
The demographics of the respondents were surprising, Ms. Clarke said. Those who purchased the telephone tended to be middle class, male, blue- collar workers - older and less affluent than expected.
GTE hoped to place 2,000 telephones in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, and through the trial with Bank One, several hundred telephones were sold, said Bruce Luecke, vice president of alternative delivery for Banc One. "It's been a learning experience," he said.
The banking company will continue to work with GTE in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, and wouldn't rule out working with other telephone providers in other markets, Mr. Luecke said. However, "we didn't see this (screen telephones) as a key strategic push," he said. "We worked effectively with GTE, and we learned a little bit."
The Columbus, Ohio, banking company also worked with Visa Interactive to sell the enhanced telephones. Additionally, the telephones were marketed directly through GTE retail outlets.
The screen telephone trial generated a great many questions from customers about when the banking company would offer PC home banking in the area, Ms. Clarke said.
Banc One officials said they do plan to expand the PC home banking program. The bank has been offering a service using the Prodigy network for several years in the Columbus area.
In 1996, Banc One plans to expand the Prodigy offering to more regions, and to offer home banking over other networks, Mr. Luecke said.