Syntellect Inc., a Phoenix-based developer of voice processing technology, has introduced an interactive voice response system that runs on a personal computer.
Common at most larger banks, voice response technology enables callers to access information and execute transactions from a touch-tone telephone. The caller can select from a numbered menu of options or, on some systems, issue simple voice commands to perform operations that would otherwise require the intervention of a human operator.
Because it is PC based, the Syntellect product, called Vocal-Point I, is aimed to smaller institutions that might not have needed or been able to afford other systems, company officials said. The system, which can also run on a network of PCS, handles four to 24 lines per module.
Keeping Tabs on Checks
VocalPoint I runs on International Business Machines Corp.'s OS/2 operating System.
At the First National Bank of Denham Springs, La., bank executives have programmed VocalPoint I to ask customers if they want to find out the status of their direct-deposit Social Security checks.
The First National Bank of Denham Springs, with $102 million of assets, has many customers who are senior citizens and who worry about their checks, said vice president Robert Seals.
"We did a call study and determined that our bookkeeping staff was spending a great deal of time answering customer account questions over the phone." Mr. Seals said. "With close to 13,000 checking accounts, that can amount to a lot of phone work."
Mr. Seals also determined that the bank's call flow increased significantly on the third and fourth day of each month, when Social Security direct deposit is supposed to take place. In the past, senior citizens would call bookkeeping. Today, more of them are using the phone.
Earlier Attempt Failed
Mr. Seals said the bank had previously installed another voice processing system, but because that system didn't offer comprehensive features, customers sidestepped it and called the bank directly. "It was as if we didn't have a system at all," he said.
To introduce the VocalPoint system, bookkeepers Wind other bank employees tire explaining how it works to older customers. A special mailing is being sent out to this group as well.
In addition to helping senior citizens. VocalPoint allows bank customers to check balances, pay bills, and transfer funds. It reports on recent transaction activity.