Customer service representatives at Bank of America and Royal Bank of Canada are now using a "continuous feedback" software feature that lets them note interactions in a data base.
The notes are then available for other reps to deal with the customer in question.
Only a few of the biggest banks have taken this step beyond data warehousing and mining.
Such feedback is part of the Valex system, from Exchange Applications Inc. of Boston, that Bank of America has installed. Continuous feedback is also a feature of the software that Royal Bank has developed internally to automate customer management.
With the appropriate data, a salesperson can "proactively manage client relationships by anticipating consumer needs," said Shauneen E. Bruder, a senior vice president at Royal Bank in Toronto.
The bank's automated customer information management system is a result of years of development, from a data base project in 1978 to a data warehouse in this decade. "It has been part of our overall business strategy for a long time," Ms. Bruder said.
The recently added automated feedback loop has added to earnings, she said.
S. Keri Lewis, a partner in New York at KPMG Peat Marwick, said a customer-interaction feedback loop helps a bank use the profitability- measuring tools that are layered on top of a data warehouse.
Such so-called "continuous customer management" systems also require analytical programs and marketing-campaign management software, he noted.
Bank of America, based in Charlotte, N.C., installed Valex to retrieve and segment information from its data warehouse.
Christopher M. Kelly, senior vice president for consumer data base marketing at the BankAmerica Corp. subsidiary, said Valex is a "robust data mining tool" for a warehouse with three terrabytes of information dating back 18 months.
Valex identifies the most profitable 10% of customers for tight targeting of solicitations, Mr. Kelly said .
Rodgers L. Harper, managing vice president of First Manhattan Consulting Group, said continuous-feedback systems are meant to help banks learn how customers are responding to offers "so you can offer the right products in the right way."
Such systems help retain the most profitable customers and increase the profitability of others, he said. "The trick is in the segmentation," Mr. Harper said.
Mr. Lewis of KPMG Peat Marwick said the early adopters of continuous customer management will be market leaders in a few years. "If someone gets there and gets it right, the others will have to or they will lose market share," he said.
The largest banks will each invest up to $500 million in the next five years to reap the full rewards of a feedback loop, Mr. Lewis estimated.
Only the 10 largest banks in the United States have completed installation of data warehouses and are proceeding to add continuous- feedback tools, he said.