Columbia Bank Chooses Contact Solutions For Shared IVR Services

After a decade of managing its own IVR, Columbia Bank—which has more than 50 branches in Washington and Oregon—will be using Contact Solutions’ shared interactive voice response (IVR) system for self-service consumer banking applications.

"It’s a speech and touchtone application and it is retail banking," says Paul Logan, CEO and president of Contact Solutions. "So we do things like balance inquiry, fund transfer, last five transactions, stop checks, report lost or stolen cards—all the typical transaction that you might see from a retail bank."

According to Logan, Columbia Bank turned to a shared IVR for the same reasons as most Contact Solutions customers. "Fundamentally, for the last 25 years, there’s been this naive perception that IVR—which is a relatively complex technology and becoming more complex with easier access to back-end systems—once deployed becomes self-optimized," he says. "And the consumer enterprises are not to blame for the perception. The Intervoices and the Avayas and the Northern Telecoms of the world have worked very hard to kind-of create that perception…It’s never been the case."

Logan says that in these uncertain economic times, consumer enterprises are beginning to realize the importance of optimizing their IVR. "Our core focus is on two things and two things only," Logan says. "We’re looking to improve customer satisfaction. And secondly we’re trying to automate more transactions today than we automated yesterday and more tomorrow than we automated today. We’re laser- focused on that. We’ve structured our business model with the shared service model so that we are goal-congruent with our customers. "

Logan sees numerous benefits for Columbia Bank in their switch to Contact Solutions. "Without question, number one is total improved cost of ownership," he says. "We’re optimizing the application every day, every week, every month, every quarter, every year, with our continuous improvement process."

Additionally Logan cites operation availability and adaptability: "One of the challenges that Columbia Bank had was that their IT organization had a lot of technologies that it was responsible for and by outsourcing the contact solutions, we’re 24 by seven by 365 laser-focused on making sure the host integration is up and working. And [we have the] ability to expand and contract should there be any changes to the Columbia footprint, up or down, in the foreseeable future, we will make that seamless for them at least from an automation perspective."

According to Logan, Contact Solutions plans to expand its focus on "the retail banking space."

"There’s clearly a lot of fear, uncertainty, doubt, and turmoil in the banking space and we really passionately believe…our focus on reducing the transfer rate, improving the automation rate, and improving customer satisfaction fits very nicely into the story that the banking industry is going to be very focused on for the next 12 to 18 months. And we think we’ll play a big part of that."

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