CD Technology and SmartStor Help Englewood Bank Improve Customer Support

Englewood Bank, of Charlotte County, FL, was founded in 1988 and has since grown to be the county's largest independent bank. As a full-service commercial bank offering a wide range of individual and business banking services, the bank holds that "while the personal service we offer may be considered 'old-fashioned,' the services we provide certainly are not."

While Englewood Bank likes to consider itself a bank that offers a personal touch, this community bank — which has six branches and brings in 90 million dollars in deposited checks — offers modern services like Internet Banking and BANKline, a free 24-hour telephone banking service. Another thing that is not "old-fashioned" about this bank is the technology it uses to manage customer check information over the network. That technology is CD, and the software the bank uses is Smart Storage's SmartStor Archive.

Bank Adopts CD, As Paper Storage Proves Inefficient
Before Englewood adopted CD technology, paper was its primary means of storage and retrieval. According to Tom Watson, Systems Coordinator, using paper to process checks was extremely inefficient. He says, "With CD, retrieving customer information is a matter of a couple of minutes, instead of hours. Employees no longer have to leave their desks to go to a separate room and dig though paper files for a couple of hours."

Paper storage also proved to be expensive, as it required a great deal of space. "We kept checks forever," Watson says. "We had storage bins full of checks — seven years worth by the time we committed them to CD. It was unbelievable. With CD, we have fewer expenses for storage." He points out that storing checks filled five 10'X10' storage rooms, but now the bank stores a maximum of six months worth of checks before archiving them to CD, drastically reducing storage space.

Today, Englewood Bank scans customer checks, transmits them to digital files with an imaging product, and stores them in a database. After the check images have resided on a hard drive for 90 days, the images are recorded with SmartStor Archive in a 200-slot JVC jukebox. The CD-R discs remain in the jukebox and can be accessed by anyone on the local area network (LAN). The bottom line-customer checks are stored on secure, durable, high-capacity media, and are able to be retrieved within seconds. Finally, after the paper checks have been stored for six months, they are destroyed, thus eliminating the need for paper storage space.

Englewood Bank Employees Are Better Able To Serve The Bank's Customers
One benefit of network storage, Watson notes, is the ability for 90 of Englewood Bank's employees to efficiently research and provide information to the customers. If a customer requests information on a particular check, an employee from Operations (or a teller at one of the five branches) can pull up the check at his/her terminal. This is accomplished, in part, through a third-party imaging product, which provides the client with an intuitive interface. The software requests a file from SmartStor Archive, SmartStor locates and retrieves the CD, and the file is sent to the client's terminal. The employee has the check information almost immediately and is able to answer the customer's question within seconds. A vast improvement over paper.

Besides helping Operations' clients meet their research needs, SmartStor provides fast retrieval of customer check images, allowing the employees to print the images and send clear, crisp copies on standard-sized paper to the customers. (A Customer receives images of both sides of the checks, including his/her signature.) This is a huge benefit for customers who were accustomed to receiving a bulk of the original checks in an overstuffed envelope by mail. The bank also has the option to send CDs to clients.

After-Sales Help Proves Helpful To Englewood Bank
Smart Storage is well respected for its technical support and for good reason. For Watson, Smart Storage technical support has been very responsive in terms of working with him to solve issues and taking his suggestions on how to improve the software. He says, "I give an idea to the technical support staff people, and they say, 'Yeah, that's a good idea,' and then pass it on to the development department and some of my suggestions show up in the product." Watson is presently waiting for the Beta of the latest upgrade of SmartStor Archive.

Watson sees the Internet playing a large role in the future for Englewood Bank. Customers will be able to view their checks online, as software will enable the customers to pull images directly from the jukebox. He also says that the bank will require more jukeboxes to hold many more CDs-presently Operations maintains over 100 CDs. DVD may be an option, but to Watson there is too much ambiguity surrounding the new medium. For a bank that purports to give customers the "old-fashioned" touch, Englewood Bank is far ahead of its competition in the technology arena.