Seeking a simultaneous boost in back-office productivity and customer service capabilities, Tri Counties Bank in Chico, Calif., has installed Fiserv Inc.'s Comprehensive Banking System.

For the past several years, the $500 million-asset Tri Counties' programming staff had been maintaining a customized software package in-house. "The situation with our old software got to the point where we couldn't keep up making the system adjustments to comply with new regulations," said Debra Howell, the loan production manager at Tri Counties. "We couldn't make enhancements. It was too time consuming and labor intensive."

Streamlined Programming

Ms. Howell said the primary reason why Tri Countles chose Fiserv was because the Fiserv system, which runs on an International Business Machines Corp. AS/400 midrange computer, enables the bank to create installment loans, commercial loans, or any other type of loan using the same programming tools.

"The default parameters are the same for all loans, so our programmers don't have to go into the system and set up anything new," Ms. Howell said.

In addition, the new system enables Tri Counties to offer an automatic escrow service to its mortgage customers. In the past, providing this type of service had been an operational problem.

Ms. Howell explained that the bank never considered offering escrow accounts but when it merged with another community bank three years ago, Tri Counties assumed the obligation of serving more than 75 escrow customers.

To Offer Escrow Service

"Under our old system, we had to go in and manually do the escrow accounting and it was time consuming," she said. Under the new Fiserv system, the function is performed automatically. Ms. Howell said that, in the coming months, the bank will offer escrow as a service to new mortgage customers.

The Fiserv system also offers a range of customer service benefits. The system enables front-office personnel to pull up a consolidated record of an individual customer's banking activity. "If a loan officer needs to move from a savings account screen and into a trust record, he or she can do it in seconds and then go right back to the original screen," Ms. Howell said.

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