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Judy Ward
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First Horizon National Standardizes Contact Centers on Interactive Intelligence Platform

First Horizon's cost for IVR-based calls has dropped from 7 cents per call to 4 cents, saving the bank about $50,000 a month.

As First Horizon National Corp. ($37.9 billion in assets) expanded, it acquired disparate platforms across its four contact centers, which were using eight different software products to handle functions such as skills-based routing, outbound dialing and interactive voice response (IVR). "Through the years we had bought other companies that each had its own platform, or department heads were allowed to make decisions on their own," explains Renelda Riffe, the Memphis-based bank's VP for contact center strategy. "It becomes very difficult to gain efficiencies." The multiple platforms also made it difficult to provide a consistent customer experience, Riffe adds.

The bank decided in late 2004 to standardize its contact center technology. It considered the three vendors whose contact-center systems already were in use within the bank Concerto Software (which has since merged with Aspect Software), Interactive Intelligence and Siemens Communications (Munich) as well as Aspect (Chelmsford, Mass.). "We looked at what functionality we needed," Riffe recalls. "Then we prioritized that by must-have, like-to-have and can-live-without."

Once First Horizon National decided to focus on Indianapolis-based Interactive Intelligence, the selection team conducted site visits with some of the vendor's banking clients, and the bank selected version 2.3.1 of Interactive Intelligence's Customer Interaction Center (CIC) software in early 2005. "Functionality and price were the two main drivers, and the fact that we already had a presence of that product here," Riffe says. To run the software, the bank added about 10 telephony-based servers from Alliance Systems (Plano, Texas) for each of its contact centers in Memphis and Knoxville, Tenn., and five for its Kansas City, Kan., location, according to Riffe.

IT staff members attended week-long training sessions led by Interactive Intelligence. They also could attend optional follow-up classes, Riffe adds.

The implementation was phased in over two years, partly to test the system before expanding its deployment, Riffe says. It started in Knoxville in August 2005, moved on to Memphis in 2006 and by April 2007, the Kansas City centers were live on the new platform.

According to Riffe, Interactive Intelligence handled the majority of the deployment work. Most facilities were up and running in about three months, she says, noting that First Horizon National did have to integrate the software with its mainframe-based collections software to manage collections accounts.

The Customer Interaction Center solution has improved performance, Riffe says, largely because it lets the bank load balance incoming calls. If the Memphis contact center is at full capacity, for example, a call will automatically transfer to the Knoxville center. "We do not have agents sitting idle in one location while our other location gets bombarded," she explains. "We had not been able to do that before."

Further, the bank's cost for IVR-based calls has dropped from 7 cents per call to 4 cents, saving the bank about $50,000 a month, Riffe continues. And, she says, the collections contact centers now have the capability to record customer calls, eliminating the need to confirm payment plans saving the bank another $185,000 annually.

Currently, First Horizon National is deploying the technology in several smaller contact centers, including its internal technical-assistance center. "By the middle of next year," Riffe says, "we want to have every contact center on the platform."

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