M&I Data Services Inc. is introducing software designed to help financial institutions cross-sell through branches and call centers.

The software, BankerInsight, organizes information from bank data bases to give customer service representatives complete views of customer relationships. It also feeds bank employees product information and helps with sales pitches.

Similar software is offered by a variety of companies vying to capitalize on banks' increased interest in sales. According to a survey of 13 top U.S. banks by BT Alex. Brown, about 26% of 1997 bank technology spending has been aimed at increasing revenue. In 1995, only about 21% of technology dollars were devoted to revenue efforts.

Consultants familiar with BankerInsight said it is a dramatic improvement over Milwaukee-based M&I's previous generation of customer service software, which was based on the Microsoft DOS operating system.

Because M&I Data, a unit of $19 billion-asset Marshall & Ilsley Corp., operates a data processing service bureau that serves several hundred community banks, observers said BankerInsight should find plenty of willing users.

Bringing banks with over $5 billion of assets on board may prove a larger challenge.

"It's certainly conceivable that M&I will find a market beyond its own captive customer base," said William Bradway, research director at Meridien Research in Needham, Mass. But larger banks that do not use M&I's core processing system "are going to be a tougher sell," he said, because they have many more alternatives available to them.

The strength of BankerInsight is its "tight integration with the core processing service bureau business. M&I should have a real advantage over other vendors' solutions in that environment," Mr. Bradway added.

According to M&I executives, one BankerInsight feature worthy of note is its user interface. The company devoted hundreds of hours to researching the way customer service people use their software tools. BankerInsight is designed to let users fetch information while continuing dialogue with customers.

BankerInsight works best when linked to a data warehouse. The warehouse feeds the call center or branch application with information that can be used to determine what additional products a customer might use.

Notes on previous customer interactions are available through the system as well. If a customer requested mortgage information, for example, on a prior call, a bank employee would have access to that information.

When the software is installed at both branches and call centers, a bank can be certain it is providing consistent information and service through two of its most commonly used service channels.

"The system takes its cue from the convergence of call center and branches on the operations side," said Alfred S. Dominick Jr., president of M&I Data's retail product delivery group.

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