The promise of advanced touch-tone banking capabilities and enhanced ease of use has prompted the Greater Vancouver Community Credit Union (GVC) to upgrade its telephone banking system.

GVC was one of the 37 client sites throughout

B.C. and Saskatchewan that upgraded to Datawest Solutions’ new Datawest Phone Banking system. Credit union members switching from Datawest’s legacy VisionLink phone banking system to the new solution will enable customers to: retrieve account balances with two keystrokes rather than the 20 or so keystrokes required under the older system; access other memberships they are associated with in a single call; arrange to be advised if a certain event occurs; and create new accounts through a telephony interface.

“”There are quite a few enhancements that they made that have been quite beneficial,”” said Trisha Tanginoa, manager of administration and marketing, GVC, which has about 6,500 members that are served from four locations. “”We also have the ability to custom-route member calls, if they were experiencing difficulties, to particular branches if they so chose, which is beneficial to us because we don’t have a call centre.””

Tanginoa added that GVC’s upgrade was straightforward because her company already had much of the hardware in place. And the new system, which she said she was easily able to implement with assistance from Datawest despite her lack of a technical background, has already elicited positive comments from users.

“”Telephone banking is an essential nowadays,”” she said. “”We may not get a huge increase in penetration as far as our membership is concerned, but the people who use it are quite loyal to it, so it’s a product that we have to offer. And we’ve had some positive feedback from our membership. They like the new functionality. It was a really seamless implementation as far as our membership is concerned.””

According to Datawest, there are four keys areas to consider when evaluating the Datawest Phone Banking system: open architecture, flexibility from a configuration perspective, incorporation of technologies such as speech recognition, and user friendliness.

“”The product itself is able to communicate into multiple banking platforms,”” said Lesley Bernardin, implementation consultant, Datawest. “”Therefore any financial institution regardless of the banking platform that they’re using is able to operate this telephone banking system.””

Because of the open standards approach taken by Datawest, clients won’t have to worry about being tied down to any one standard, stressed Iain Black, president of Datawest’s Banking Solutions Group.

“”In the banking system game, there’s extraordinary reliability that customers have on their core banking system provider,”” said Black, whose company was acquired recently by Open Solutions based in Glastonbury, Conn. Regulatory and shareholder approval are still pending. “”It’s not unusual in historical banking systems to have a lot of your options limited by virtue of the decisions you made in years gone past in terms of the banking system and what it can talk to and what it can’t talk to.””

Bernardin said that Datawest will develop speech-related technologies for future product releases.

“”We are actually in the process of putting the final touches on the first enhancement under the speech recognition umbrella,”” she said. Another component the company is working on is “”secure speech”” which would identify the caller by voice.


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