With the next millennium three years away, Comerica Inc. is hell- bent on not being left behind. Its Direction 2000, a strategic initiative of grand scale, is intended to create an organization that meets the changing needs of its retail customers at a lower cost.

The three-phase customer service project began in 1995 with a reorganization into three focused units: the Business Bank for corporate and global banking, the Individual Bank for retail banking, and the Investment Bank to handle investment services, including insurance. In phase two, Comerica consolidated back-office functions such as accounts payable and receivable, purchasing, and wire transfers. The final phase streamlined processes and eliminated redundancies firmwide.

In the near term, the bank is also looking to migrate to electronic forms, reducing paperwork required to open an account and automating loan documentation to accelerate customer response times.

Comerica's stated goal upon completion of the project: to consistently rank within the top ten of the 50 largest U.S. bank holding companies as measured by return on equity (ROE).

-witt tfn.com

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