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NorthEast Alliance Federal Credit Union

How can a credit union best serve their thousands of members when they only have two branches but have members spread out across four states? That was the dilemma that NorthEast Alliance Federal Credit Union (NEAFCU) faced. With a strong commitment to serving their 13,000 members in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, NEAFCU turned to their long time business partner Vysym for help in putting together an advanced communication and integrated transaction processing system.

Vysym had worked closely with the $37M asset credit union for over seven years by providing them with a convenient automated telephone lending solution. Along with their telephone banking program called MARS (Member Audio Response System) and online banking program, NEAFCU was quite efficient at electronically serving their members. However, when Vysym released their state-of-the-art TALIS Voice Gateway system in 2002, Donald Briggs, CEO at the credit union, knew right away that his members would appreciate the sophisticated speech recognition technology built in to the TALIS Voice Gateway. He also knew that both the 14 year old MARS and Lucent Conversant Call Director systems were on their last legs and that he needed a more powerful converged solution to deal with the very large number of automated calls that his credit union handled: over 16,000 per month.

The beauty of the new system is that it replaced three independent systems - banking, lending and a PBX call director - with a single, converged platform which incorporated seamless automatic speech recognition. Not only were the number of systems to support reduced, but the credit union installed two TALIS systems which gave them both load balancing for their 12 incoming primary phone lines and the peace of mind that comes from having continuous, fault-tolerant availability. Don notes that "we expect the system to pay for itself very quickly, in fact our telephone loan applications have already gone from 10 - 15 per week with the old system to 30 per week with the new system."

It is only natural that Don and his staff of 14 employees were nervous about the consolidation and conversion, but Vysym's development and tech support team worked hard to ensure a smooth transition. Don notes that the conversion was "pretty much event free and that we had basically no complaints from members." In fact, once members found out about the speech recognition features and got comfortable using them, "they were ecstatic about the ease of use, as was our staff" according to Don. While the system certainly takes a tremendous load off of the credit union's 6 person call center, they really appreciate the ability to conference in members and walk them through step by step any occasional difficulty they may encounter with the system. Another great feature was that Vysym was able to reproduce the touch tone codes from the old system and seamlessly merge them with the new voice recognition system. Don is quick to point out that this elegant solution "gives us the best of both worlds with no time consuming re-training of members or staff."

Like most small credit union Presidents, Don wears many different hats. Unlike many others, Don has actually tackled the position of Information Technology person as well! Without an in-house IT employee, he wants and demands systems that run in "lights out" mode. Don is happy to report that "Vysym's technical support has been fantastic - the system practically monitors itself." Not only can Vysym's team of highly experienced engineers remotely monitor and troubleshoot the system, but they can analyze specific calls by account number, time of day, and many other parameters. The end result, says Don, is a system "that is as close to a perfect solution as you can get!"

With the old bank-by-phone system and antiquated automated attendant/call director out of the picture and the new TALIS Voice Gateway system up and running smoothly, the credit union is looking to the future and to adding call center features and functionality typically available to only much larger credit unions. In addition to voice routing, voice banking, and voice lending, the TALIS Voice Gateway will allow NEAFCU to increase its efficiency and security through voice logging and visual data displays. Voice logging will allow conversations to be automatically captured and documented so member disputes can be resolved quickly and easily, while call recordings will serve as excellent training tools for new Member Service Representatives, as well as aiding in personnel performance evaluations. Finally, visual data displays have the capability to automatically present all available member information: identification, account relationships, balances, and much more, thereby increasing member service levels in the call center.

Because the TALIS Voice Gateway is built on a foundation of XML (extensible markup language), it can seamlessly integrate with NEAFCU's core processing system and external web services. With this kind of power and flexibility, NorthEast Alliance FCU expects to get many years of productive service out of the TALIS Voice Gateway. With increased automated lending activity, coupled with self-service on the telephone banking side, the credit union is already saving money by not having to add call center staff. 24/7 convenience, improved member service, increased lending activity and low maintenance costs - these are exactly the items that every credit union needs, especially in these tough economic times. Don states that "we have been very pleased with the TALIS Voice Gateway system - it is easy to use and I would recommend it to any credit union."

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