Barnett Banks Inc. has completed the first phase of installing a customer service and document management system supplied by Earnings Performance Group Inc.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The system combines automatic voice response software with programs that track customer inquiries and requests for checks and other documents.

"Our objective is better customer service," said Jonathan Palmer, chief technology executive at the $38 billion-asset bank and chief executive of Barnett Technologies, the bank's operations arm. "It's reduced a lot of the manual labor involved."

Short Hills, N.J.-based EPG began a consulting arrangement with Jacksonville, Fla.-based Barnett in 1992.

"They had a semiautomatic system. They weren't linked together," said Mr. Robert Lauster, a principal at EPG.

EPG and Barnett have been working over the last year to improve the system, Mr. Palmer said.

The bank's new customer service system includes voice-response software from International Business Machines Corp. and two components from EPG.

"Barnett represents the first fully integrated implementation of the solution," said Mr. Lauster.

Enter Criss and Aras

The first part, called customer relationship inquiry service system, or Criss, tracks customer questions from the time they are posed until they are resolved, Mr. Lauster said.

The system has been installed at Barnett's telephone centers in Miami, Tampa, and Jacksonville.

The second piece, known as automated research and settlement system, or Aras, automatically handles checking-account requests at the back office.

"If a customer asks for a copy of a check, we can key in requests on Criss and the request is routed through the document manager to Aras," Mr. Palmer said.

"The Criss system basically provides the automated routing of the request," said Charles Forbes, an EPG principal. "Fulfillment comes from the Aras system."

Aras has been on line at the operations center in Miami for two months and is currently being installed at the Jacksonville location.

Further, Mr. Palmer said, the bank is planning to make the Criss system available to teller and customer service representatives at branch offices.

The system is being piloted at one of the Barnett bank affiliates and is expected to be installed throughout the more than 600 branches by the end of the year.

Barnett is also looking at expanding the systems to include other business lines, such as corporate-customer service and consumer loans.

While EPG has other bank customers -- including Boatmen's Bancshares, UJB Financial Corp. and Midlantic Corp. -- Barnett is the first to install both major parts of its system.

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