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09:19 AM
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Bank Installs Multistate Voice System

Peoples Bank, Marietta, Ohio, is committed to hometown banking.

Peoples Bank, Marietta, Ohio, is committed to hometown banking. But with 45 locations across Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky, the $1.3 billion financial institution is far from a small-time bank. In fact, Peoples Bank, which adds at least five branches each year, has recently opened its 50th office.

To sustain its reputation for customer service, Peoples Bank needed a scalable and cost-effective phone system, which it found in a networked telephony solution from 3Com.

Using an array of 3Com NBX IP-based telephone systems over its Ethernet wide area network (WAN), Peoples Bank united its branch offices under a single voice infrastructure while reaping significant savings on its telephone expenses. In addition, the bank also relies on 3Com SuperStack 3 Switch 4400 switches to prioritize voice traffic, ensuring seamless, high-quality customer service.

"With 600 employees in nearly 50 locations and more to come, we needed an enterprise phone system to streamline our customer service and our internal communications," said Steve Nulter, vice president and manager, information systems at Peoples Bank.

The NBX system features voice mail and direct inward dialing at every desk, enabling all branches to operate as a single entity. "We can save significant dollars by eliminating maintenance on separate, individual phone systems, and an estimated $60,000 a year using dial plans to reduce our long-distance charges," said Nulter.

Previously, Peoples Bank used non-integrated phone systems, making moves, adds and changes expensive and difficult. Staff members were unable to transfer calls between branches, forcing customers to hang up and redial. Employees didn't have direct dial lines, and only those at the Marietta headquarters had voice mail. In addition, the bank incurred significant long-distance charges for calls between branches in different area codes.

Moreover, with branches as far as 150 miles apart, two IT employees assigned to telephone maintenance had to drive hours to make urgent repairs, while less critical but still pressing problems went unattended for days or weeks. By using IP-based technology, the bank could leverage its LAN/WAN into a seamless communications infrastructure.

Peoples Bank's voice solution is composed of a 3Com SuperStack 3 NBX Networked Telephony Solution at its Marietta office and 35 3Com SuperStack 3 Switch 4400s distributed among is largest branches. The bank is using a 3Com NBX 100 Communications System in each of its seven regional offices. Twelve NBX extension chassis in smaller branches connect over the bank's WAN via NBX Virtual Tie Lines.

Direct inward dialing allows bank employees to contact co-workers at any branch and transfer calls at no cost by dialing a four-digit extension. Outgoing calls are routed through branches closest to their destinations, ensuring that calls are local rather than long distance. Voice mail boxes for individuals, groups and branches guarantee that all messages are received and answered.

Most importantly, customers can reach any bank employee in any location by calling their local branch. During banking hours, hunt groups automatically forward incoming calls across departments, and sometimes across multiple branches, until a staff member answers the call.

Peoples Bank uses call detail reporting to track call volumes in its customer service and collections departments. In addition, the NBX platform's browser-based administration tool lets IT staff configure and manage the entire phone system from any networked PC, eliminating hours of costly travel time. The administration tool also enables individual employees to easily customize their phones for improved call handling.

"Thanks to 3Com, we've unified our voice communications across all of our locations. This lets us operate more efficiently and serve our customers more effectively," Nulter said. "Our new voice solution ensures our ability to deliver consistent service to every location and to continue doing so as we grow."

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