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The color of money: MidAmerican Bank enhances customer service with new PBX.

THE COLOR OF MONEY

A new PBX helped MidAmerican Bank and Trust handle the transition of a merger.

It also boosted customer service and internal efficiency.

"Our money is the same color as the money in the bank down the street. That means the key to growth is customer service," says Harry M. Wheeler Jr., senior vice president at MidAmerican.

MidAmerican Bank and Trust has $330 million in assets, mostly in the form of small-business loans. It's the 11th-largest bank in the Kansas City area.

Wheeler figures 90% of bank business is done by telephone. Transparency is vital to customers between the locations in Roeland Park and Overland Park.

The bank wanted customers to be able to call one number and be sure of reaching the person they wanted, even after the trust department and other personnel changed sites.

"When customers call Harry Wheeler, they should get Harry Wheeler," Wheeler says. "they shouldn't get a runaround and be told that he's at a different location."

The bank's PBX and key system couldn't provide the transparency or other features it needed so MidAmerican hired a consultant.

He envisioned a system with main and satellie operations joined by a T1 link, along with integrated voice mail, automatic call distributor, and call accounting.

Service First

"We looked at all our requirements in terms of customer service," says Wheeler.

MidAmerican's Hitachi America HCX5000 Commerce PBX provides a transparent T1 link between the two banks. The ISDN-compatible switch will eventually connect branches in other locations.

All central office trunks and direct-inward-dial (DID) lines enter the Roeland Park facility. Overland Park has four trunks for outbound local calls or emergency inbound in case of T1 troubles.

The configuration provides DID capability for staff at both locations, even though all calls come into the main facility. This lets customers dial just one number and lets the bank operate with only one switchboard attendant.

"The configuration also helps our disaster plan, since the staff at one location could continue to operate reasonably efficiently even if the other location had to be shut down," says Wheeler.

To relieve workers of the burden of internal message taking, MidAmerican installed a Centigram voice-messaging system that serves both locations.

The system includes message waiting and lamp control.

"Most internal calls are either to ask or answer a question. The voice-mail system allows us to communicated without having to pick up the phone each time it rings."

Saving Time

He adds: "I wish I could put a hard dollar cost on it, but voice mail saves me at least 15 minutes a day. It's eliminated internal phone tag and allows us to distribute the same message to dozens of people in seconds."

To indicate whether a call is external or internal, SelecSet phone sets ring differently.

Managers have SelecSet 400s, with two-line 40-character liquid crystal display, 24 programmable option keys, and six "soft" keys to send pre-programmed messages. Other employees have SelecSet 200s, a digital multiline phone with six programmable and 10 fixed buttons.

All SelecSets can handle four simultaneous calls over one port. MidAmerican Bank is also using the HCX5000's datacomm capabilities, including modem pooling.

The T1 link is mainly for voice, but several channels are dedicated to data transfer between the two sites.

In fact, response time of terminals at Overland Park is faster than at headquarters. The T1 allows data transfer at 19.2 kb/s there; it's limited to 9.6kb/s at headquarters.

MidAmerican has personal computers linked to the Federal Reserve Bank and other agencies for wire transfers and other information.

Currently, modems are used only five or six times a day for three or four minutes at a time. With a modem pool, fewer modems can handle more calls. This saves money and eliminates network-management headaches.

The bank is considering using existing telephone wiring to transfer data to and from a mainframe.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:private branch exchange
Publication:Communications News
Date:May 1, 1990
Words:646
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