NationsBank has completed the first phase of a massive systems overhaul that eventually will provide consistent customer information across its delivery channels.
In the first leg of the multimillion-dollar effort, the Charlotte, N.C.- based banking company has installed new technology in its credit card call center to allow customer service representatives to access a complete customer profile on a single screen when answering a customer's inquiry. In the past, customer service agents have had to access five or six screens to change an address for a customer.
This spring, the $182 billion-asset bank will roll out sales software that will make it easier for service representatives to sell other card products over the telephone.
The overall call center project, which will be rolled out in several phases, is part of a larger systems initiative called Frontier.
"The first phase of the Frontier project focuses on the call center, but our intent is to take this foundation to establish a franchise-wide solution," said John Moorefield, senior vice president of NationsBanc Services Inc., the bank's automation subsidiary.
The system that NationsBank is installing is based on Broadway & Seymour Inc.'s Millennium, a client/server product that uses objects to simplify programming across many systems.
NationsBank declined to reveal how many calls are answered in its call center, saying that was competitive information. NationsBank Card Services has a staff of 1,700 and handles $6.2 billion in outstanding loans.
"The issue here is not the call center, it is retail delivery," said Mark Mauriello, vice president of retail delivery systems at Charlotte- based Broadway & Seymour.
"The idea is if you have a common set of interfaces, you can use it for the branch, the call center, the video kiosk, and you can reduce the time it takes to get the new product to market."
Many banks are putting this standard set of interfaces in place, beginning with the call center, because it potentially affects the most customers.
NationsBank's system runs on workstations running International Business Machines Corp.'s OS/2 operating system and servers from Sun Microsystems Inc. Right now it's being used to track customer retention and employee performance.
It replaces IBM 3270 terminals that are tightly tied to the mainframe- based card processing system. If a customer representative wants to see a customer's other accounts, each system handling a different account must be queried separately.
Next spring, sales applications will be rolled out that will allow customer service representatives to cross-sell other card products.
NationsBank started its project in the card services call center because that area was less technologically complex than other parts of the bank. All processing is done on a single legacy system from Total Systems, though other systems must also be tied in, including an image capture system and a neural network for fraud detection.
Mr. Moorefield said there has been a measurable increase in productivity since the initial phase of the card center's system went live this fall, though he declined to state how much.
Fewer calls are put on hold, he said. And the average length of calls has decreased. The system also has reduced by several weeks the amount of time required to train customer service representatives, because now they do not need to learn how to access customer systems in other parts of the bank.
The company said the new call center technology will cost between $25,000 and $30,000 per customer service workstation.