Shawmut National Corp. has signed a $20 million agreement with American Telephone and Telegraph Co. to revamp its telephone banking services.
The northeastern money-center will use AT&T to upgrade the inbound phone center - originally created in the mid- 1980s and build a new outbound calling system to reach consumers.
The service will enable the bank's customers to handle almost any transaction - including opening a new account, applying for an installment loan or home-equity credit line, or inquiring about mutual funds - by phone. The Hartford and Boston, Mass.-based bank will install the service in July, and the system should be up and running by the fall.
Phone Banking on the Rise
"Nearly one-third of our customers prefer to be served outside the traditional branch office," said Robert B. Hedges, the' bank's executive vice president for community banking. "This segment of our customer base is growing. Since we created our phone banking center, customer usage has grown sevenfold."
The communications giant will provide Shawrout with long-distance telephone services, voice messaging and response systems, and PBX systems. The voice-response service will speed through the incoming calls, by recognizing the customers' voices - rather than requiring their PINs - and then pulling up the appropriate file.
The automatic outbound calling service will give the bank telemarketing and cross-selling potential, dialing numbers and patching the call to a customer service representative only if there is an answer on the line.
These advances represent a "quantum leap" forward for the bank, said spokesman Robert L. Guenther.
In addition to more conventional incoming calls, t The bank may soon provide a finai|cial information service to quote stock and bond prices.
Video Banking Kiosks
In a venture separate from the phone-service agreement, Shawmut will also pilot the two-way, full-motion video banking kiosks that AT&T provides through its Global Information Solutions subsidiary, formerly known as NCR, Mr. Hedges said. AT&T originally installed the video automated teller machines at two Huntington Baneshares branches earlier this year.
The acquisition of NCR and the ability to provide these packaged services has helped AT&T build its customer base within the banking industry, said Ray Butkus, the vice president of sales for AT&T's business communications unit. But, he added, kiosks and phone services can never completely replace the branch system.