First American Bank Corp., Elk Grove, Ill., has bought software from Bell & Howell Protocorp International that gives employees faster access to information stored on different data bases.

The software, PCI/Links, "is designed to connect to the data bases of any and all systems in the bank," said Kenneth W. Long, Protocorp's chairman.

First American hopes the Windows-based software will make its customer service representatives' jobs easier, said Kim Kohon, vice president of operations.

The $1 billion-asset bank has been testing Protocorp's software since August in its call center and research areas.

In the past, responding to a customer inquiry about a check might require a call center employee to search several data bases to find, for example, a bank statement, a check image, and a signature card. With PCI/Links, the searching is done automatically.

The software presents "a consistent look" no matter what type of information system the representative uses, Ms. Kohon said.

"Not only then does it all look the same but then you can link the key pieces of information ... to answer customers' questions," Ms. Kohon said.

"Training on the different systems becomes less of an issue, and you can train on the more important things like communication skills," Ms. Kohon said.

First American already uses PCI/File Folder, an application that stores scanned documents.

The bank hopes to have PCI/Links available throughout its call center by the end of February. The software is used by three other U.S. banks, company officials said.

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