Situated in south-central Idaho's Magic Valley, D.L. Evans Bank was founded in 1904, a year before the westward flowing Snake River was first dammed and diverted to fill canals running north and south into the valley to turn what had been inhospitable desert into farmland.

Nearly 28 percent of the crop production that makes Idaho the nation's number-one potato producer comes from the Magic Valley. The area also contributes greatly to Idaho's ranking as the country's third top dairy producer, and helps keep the Gem State tops in trout production. Buy trout in a restaurant or supermarket anywhere in this country, and there's more than a 70 percent chance it was raised on a commercial farm in Idaho.

This is the clientele D.L. Evans cultivates. The Burley, Idaho-based agricultural lender and community bank has diversified into commercial and small business lending, as well as residential mortgages across 21 full-service branches. In June, it reported $968 million in assets.

But recently, completing tasks critical to customer retention had begun to take longer than management could abide. The biggest problems occurred when opening new accounts, referring customers to investment personnel and reissuing lost or stolen credit cards.

"We were not necessarily losing customer confidence, but there were instances of customer problems where we were not addressing their needs as promptly as we should have been," says Gerardo Munoz, I.T. director for D.L. Evans.

Staff would fill out paper forms and scan the documents into an archiving system from Laserfiche, where the records were stored for regulatory purposes. Then they would fax the papers onward to the appropriate department. Employees had to then re-type customer details into the bank's customer relationship management system, 360 View CRM from inBusiness Services.

The CRM has "really nice" reporting features to help management understand business trends and opportunities, Munoz says, and would notify employees about which items still needed work. But it was the steps needed to fax and re-key data in the bank's front-end processes that were causing customer fulfillment tasks to be fumbled or waylaid, which led to delays in resolving relatively simple customer requests.

"We were looking to provide customers an immediate response," Munoz emphasizes. "So instead of a client calling up and saying, 'I stopped by your bank yesterday with $50,000 I was looking to invest and nobody got back to me,' an investment adviser could call a couple of hours later to follow up, providing options."

Munoz had long eyed a solution he thought could improve the situation: A business process automation tool from Laserfiche called Workflow. D.L. Evans had used Laserfiche for archiving records for 13 years, but Workflow's $60,000 price tag seemed expensive. However, the potential for losing clients had become likely enough to justify an upgrade. So the bank shelled out to license Rio, Laserfiche's enterprise content management system, which includes Workflow and other security, auditing and processing features, for $100,000.

Since deployment six months ago, no printed documents have been required for in-house processing. An employee enters customer data into the fields of a PDF on their computer, which the customer can sign using an electronic signature pad on the service rep's desk, similar to devices card customers use to sign at checkout for purchases at retail stores. The document is then electronically conveyed as a TIFF image using a Laserfiche tool called Snapshot and placed into the repository with the appropriate fields and folder structure. Or users can drag and drop it as a PDF into a processing folder.

Workflow automatically flows data from the electronic document directly into the CRM system with no additional employee input. The system identifies the type of document based on the fields and retrieves additional customer data from the CRM. "We create our own SQL scripts to create referrals or trouble tickets to place into the CRM based on the content of the PDF file," Munoz says. Rio has a script editor.

Workflow then alerts both the customer service representative and the appropriate department that there's an item needing processing via an email with a link to the document. Workflow will update the ticket or referral in the CRM after personnel complete their work. And if the document sits idle in a processing folder past a pre-determined deadline, Workflow automatically escalates the case to a supervisor.

Munoz says the time-saving process automation enables quicker service, which "gives customers more confidence in our institution."




BANK: D.L. Evans Bank

PROBLEM: How to resolve delays in processing customer data?

SOLUTION: Automate business processes to boost customer service.