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Banking can be as easy as ordering pizza.

According to Toronto Dominion Bank, customers should find banking as easy as ordering pizza. And at TD Bank, it is.

George Coleman, who serves as group manager of convenience banking for TD Bank's Personal Financial Services Division, explains that the popular home banking service, known as TD BankLine, is part of "our overall strategy of providing easy, convenient, low-cost alternatives to in-branch banking."

This philosophy of convenience was inaugurated some years ago with the installation of TD Bank's network of Green Machines, which consists of 1,300 full-service automated banking machines (ABMs) and 200 cash dispensers located throughout Canada.

"Our Green Machines provide the backbone for the overall off-premise banking strategy. Interactive voice response (IVR) became a part of the picture when we began to look around for other alternatives. We asked ourselves in the process |how can we deliver more convenience and more speed - and still take care of business?''' says Coleman.

The bank's rationale for embracing IVR also stemmed from the belief that some people are technology averse and simply will not use a Green Machine.

"If we aim to provide everyone with true convenience banking," explains Coleman, "we felt we must find some alternatives that weren't as intimidating as our Green Machines.

"Thus, the telephone. There's one in virtually every home, so theoretically, we can reach 100% of our customers through this medium."

By introducing the bank-by-phone option, TD Bank hopes to eliminate the wait for those customers who still wish to conduct business at a branch location a - "key business dimension" for the bank, Coleman calls it.

At the same time, the bank's customer service representatives (CSRs) will have the opportunity to "add value" to branch customer transactions. "Our CSRs can then introduce brokerage services, move customers to another type of account, or perhaps show them the benefits of buying into a registered pension plan," he explains.

IVR was not a concept foreign to the $70 billion national bank, the fifth largest in Canada - which, for the record, services more than four million accounts in some 950 locations, including its Toronto headquarters. For several years, TD Bank's Visa authorization centers have allowed merchants to authorize transactions via touchtone, while discount brokerage customers could check on stock performance and inquire about other investment account information.

Says Coleman, "Since the bank already had some experience with voice response, we just took the idea and exploited it in the personal side of the business."

Once the decision was made to incorporate home banking by phone within the personal banking strategy, TD Bank worked with Canadian consulting firm Phonetix to identify the voice response technology best suited for a national rollout of the program.

"After looking at four or five major players, Intervoice met most of our requirements," says Coleman. "The key criteria centered around functionality like fax, voice recognition and support for videotext. Price, level of support and number of customers also influenced our decision."

Now, as the home banking program is introduced throughout Canada, customers call a single 800 number to access a variety of services, using either touchtone or voice options. Two RobotOperator Systems - located at the Toronto home base - each handling 24 lines, alternately field the requests for account balances and activity, transferring funds between accounts and permitting bill payment. TD BankLine now accommodates customers in English; within the year, Coleman says, the bank will offer French-speaking customers their own voice response line.

Customers with faxes can also receive an interim statement by simply telling the system their number. The fax capability, Coleman points out, "was focused more toward addressing the needs of small commercial customers rather than as a personal service. Canada is built on small business, but increasingly, more dividuals are buying fax machines. We consider this to be real sizzle that our competition doesn't have."

"As much as our Green Machine network, when introduced, was not the favored method of performing transactions," Coleman continues, "it now handles more than our walk-in locations. Our objective is, by the mid-1990s, to have 70% of these types of transactions to be somehow automated."

Although Coleman feels that word of mouth is the advertising medium of choice, TD Bank has launched its home banking program with a series of clever in-branch posters and pamphlets which emphasize the convenience factor. If you can order pizza, you can bank by phone, asserts one poster; If you can call a cab, you can bank by phone, declares another.

"Ordering pizza is fast, easy and convenient, the very same attributes we're looking for in BankLine," Coleman says.

Need to pay a bill? In Canada, dial 1-800-982-BANK. It's as easy as ordering pizza.
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Title Annotation:Toronto Dominion Bank's TD Bankline banking by telephone
Publication:Communications News
Date:Sep 1, 1993
Previous Article:Move to digital means money in this bank.
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