Bank of America Group Finds Telephone Logging Nirvana

Customer: Bank of America

Industry: Financial Services

State: NC

 

When Bank of America was deciding which telephone logging and workforce optimization solution to install, they chose VPI because “we were looking to store all of our data online and needed the most reliable digital telephone logger with the largest online storage capacity and easiest access to call records. The VPI system paid for itself in 6 months due to the cost savings of eliminating the use storage media coupled with the tremendous amount of supervisors’ time saved in searching for and retrieving archived calls from our telephone logger to perform quality monitoring evaluations.

Business Profile

Bank of America is one of the world's largest financial institutions, serving individual consumers, small- and middle-market businesses and large corporations with a full range of banking, investing, asset management and other financial and risk management products and services. The company provides unmatched convenience in the United States, serving approximately 57 million consumer and small business relationships with 5,900 retail banking offices, more than 18,000 ATMs and award-winning online banking with 29 million active users. Bank of America is among the world's leading wealth management companies and is a global leader in corporate and investment banking and trading across a broad range of asset classes, serving corporations, governments, institutions and individuals around the world. Bank of America offers industry-leading support to approximately 4 million small business owners through a suite of innovative, easy-to-use online products and services. The company serves clients through operations in more than 40 countries. Bank of America Corporation stock (NYSE: BAC) is a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Challenge

Bank of America's (acquired Liberty Funds Group) daily torrent of information consists primarily of phone conversations between clients and the firm's 325 financial advisors. According to the Securities and Exchange Commission's compliance rules for record keeping in the securities business, these calls must be recorded and stored. Like other firms in this industry, Liberty's original call recording system had been in use for a number of years. Like many older systems, it was based on proprietary hardware, which had become obsolete and ineffective. As the firm became more successful, greater demands were placed on the call recording system, and it just wasn't up to the task anymore.

"Each of our supervisors randomly selects 15 to 20 calls per month for evaluation," says Darryl Corrigan, assistant vice president of information technology at Bank of America's Liberty Funds Group. The legacy system used DAT (digital audio tape) storage technology and no database, making data retrieval inherently difficult and time consuming. The system was a constant source of problems and frustration. "You can imagine our nightmare with the DAT tapes," added Corrigan.

So, in May of 2000, Corrigan contacted the original system vendor to inquire about upgrades. The vendor informed him that Bank of America's existing system was not usable beyond its original functionality; the hardware couldn't be upgraded and would have to be scrapped and replaced with a new system. Further inquiry revealed that the newly proposed system was not easily upgradeable either, inherently to its design. This was unacceptable to Corrigan. Highly dissatisfied, he and his department began exploring other alternatives. As they started to gather information, the IT department developed a set of requirements for the new system.

First and foremost, the system had to be reliable. Liberty Funds needed a robust system that they could count on to work without interruption. "We literally serve thousands of clients, who in turn entrust our financial advisors with the administration of billions of dollars in mutual fund and pooled investment assets," says Corrigan. "Our records must be comprehensive, and they must be exact."

For growing financial services companies like Bank of America, capturing phone transactions is not just important - it's a fundamental necessity. According to Corrigan, "we are required by law to save every agent-customer transaction on file for seven years. In the financial services industry it's extremely important to be able to look back on every call record for regulatory, liability, and training purposes." Given the sheer volume of information and archival requirements, the optimal way for Liberty Funds to guarantee and maintain this capability was to find a system that could provide real-time, online storage, with unlimited capacity.

Making call retrieval efficient was another huge requirement. "Nowadays, it's critical that supervisors and management be able to find a call record and pull it up at a moment's notice," says Corrigan. Liberty needed a system that was simple enough to allow virtually anyone in the organization to search records by data such as phone number, agent, time, date, and other information. Not only that, but they needed the ability to launch the application, perform the search, and then email the data in less than a minute - it simply had to be that easy.

As an IT professional, Corrigan was also highly concerned about any new voice-logging system's ability to integrate with the company's legacy telecommunications systems. The new system would have to integrate seamlessly with the company's existing Aspect ACD and Northern PBX systems. That meant digital signaling and data interchange capabilities, without the need for customization or other installation complications. And finally, having been bitten once already, Corrigan demanded that the system provide a simple, uncomplicated upgrade path. Preferably, that would mean a software-based system based on an open architecture utilizing readily available, off-the-shelf hardware.

Solution

After a comprehensive search and review of available systems, Liberty Funds Group settled on an open-system architecture based recording system with extensive online storage options and a powerful SQL database for data management from VPI, called VPI CAPTURE. Replacing its aging, proprietary, DAT-based system, the new system would not only keep pace with the company growth and changing business model, but would also enable them to gain immunity from future technology obsolescence.

According to Corrigan, the VPI system was chosen over all others, because "we were looking to store all of our data online and needed the most reliable system with the largest storage capacity and easiest access to call records. VPI was the perfect solution." Liberty Funds also took advantage of VPI's offer to provide a free 30-day system evaluation. The initial installation at the company's Denver offices was completed in about an hour. "VPI's technical support and customer service has been exceptional," comments Corrigan. "Since first installing the system, I have only needed to contact their technical support for minor issues."

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Significant Benefits

The first system delivered to Liberty Funds, VPI CAPTURE, was configured with dual hard drives for increased reliability and a capability to handle extensive online storage for instant retrieval and playback. Today, VPI CAPTURE has the capability to record 192 channels simultaneously, and an unlimited number of servers can be connected together to create any size voice recording solution. New channels could be added in increments of four at a time.

Liberty's new recording system stored audio files in .wav format using industry-standard GSM compression, which is native to many Microsoft-based platforms. Most commercial media players recognize the GSM codec, and can playback exported call recordings in this format without any special configuration or additional software. The system uses an SQL database that automatically stores and manages all call detail information online, making call retrieval lightning fast. "Disputes regarding financial transactions occur daily," says Corrigan. Liberty Funds' supervisors and managers can now search, retrieve, and review call records at a moment's notice. "The VPI system allows supervisors to search for and retrieve calls and e-mail them to interested parties in minutes."

Further, VPI's recording and archiving software enables Bank of America to easily and quickly define how thousands of hours of recorded transactions are stored and archived. Many call attributes can be automatically attached to individual call records, including tags based on CTI (computer telephony integration) events or multiple user-defined fields. Based on this data and the Bank's business rules, managers are able to define how long and where each record is archived. The system is also extremely user-friendly. As Corrigan points out, "training was a cinch. If you can use the Internet, you can use the VPI system." The company reports that agent uptime has increased by 40 percent.

The Bank of America system is configured for network-attached storage (NAS)--an efficient choice given the firm's high volume and long-term storage needs. The company records up to 15,000 calls per day in each office, and this approach accommodates virtually unlimited storage capacity. This RAID5 based storage solution also provides high reliability, due to the technology's inherent redundancy.

Based on the elimination of the old recording system's cumbersome DAT storage media as well as the tremendous amount of time supervisors now save when retrieving call records for quality control and problem resolution, Corrigan estimates that the first system paid for itself in about six months. What's more, Bank of America is ready for the future. "The VPI system's robust, open architecture will easily accommodate emerging call recording applications and make software-only upgrades more ubiquitous," remarked Corrigan.