Local Software Firm Helps Banks Operate More Efficiently
St. Louis Small Business Monthly
Vol 17, Issue VIII
by Ron Ameln
Banks across the country are increasing productivity, saving money and improving customer services thanks to a St. Louis-based software development firm, PRODUCT4, Inc.
PRODUCT4’s One-Touch software system integrates all aspects of banking, such as new accounts, sales, services, teller, marketing and business rules. By integrating all functions and moving institutions to a paperless environment, banking clients are saving as much as 45 minutes per day of employee time.
PRODUCT4 systems have been installed in more than 135 financial institutions across North America and the Caribbean and support more than 7,200 bank branches.
"The banking industry has changed considerably since we began the company in 1991," said Daniel Moskowitz, founder, president and CEO of PRODUCT4, Inc. "Banks have expanded their capabilities. They now offer brokerage and insurance services and have an Internet presence. Our software allows any bank employee access to all services (if they have proper security clearance) from one screen."
The process is saving time for bank employees and customers. For example, now with all services automated and connected, much of a bank’s customer information
is pre-filled. This eliminates key entry when servicing existing customers.
"We estimate the software is saving each Berkshire customer service rep more than 45 minutes per day, and the value of this time saved is more than $130,000 a year," said Gayle Fawcett, Berskshire Bank senior vice president-retail banking and
operations. Berkshire, one of Massachusetts’ oldest and largest banking institutions, recently purchased the software.
Banterra Corporation, a bank with 23 locations in Southern Illinois and Western Kentucky, is also saving employee time. Previously, it took our bank service representatives (BSRs) 20 minutes to open an account for a new customer," said Tom Patton, Banterra executive vice president retail banking. "Thanks to the integration of the new software, our BSRs can now open new customer accounts in five minutes or less.
"We have realized dramatic time-savings at every department level, minimized paperwork, and we expect to achieve substantial cost-savings and significantly
boost new product sales."
Moskowitz first jumped into entrepreneurism in 1979 when he founded Moskowitz & Company, Inc., a consulting firm still in business today. The firm provides
interactive services to financial companies, Internet-based companies and other firms throughout the world. As a consultant working for financial companies, Moskowitz began to see a need for PRODUCT4’s services.
"Banks were going through a lot of changes, and they weren’t keeping up with technology," he said. "Banks had PCs running for every employee and software running on every PC. Even if you had a 10-branch bank and 10 people working at each branch, that meant you had to maintain 100 versions of computer software. We saw that as being wrong. We developed a single workstation that has all the components an employee would need."
PRODUCT4’s One Touch system relies on stripped-down PCs with no hard drives. The data lives off a main file server. With the advent of ATMs, voice response units and the Internet, PRODUCT4 has adapted its software three times since the company began—each time adjusting to new technologies.
Moskowitz said the most challenging aspect of selling the software is getting risk-adverse bankers to think long-term. Like any technology purchase, the
benefits are seen long after the up-front cost.
"It is a huge savings for financial institutions," he said, "but it is not like turning on a light bulb. It takes time and planning and an initial capital investment. For two organizations we recently rolled out, the ROI (return on investment) was less than one year."
He believes PRODUCT4’s customer service is helping overcome the challenge of getting new clients. "We are very good at customer service. Clients have told me that we are the best vendor they ever worked with. We are very hands-on. We’re not a vendor; we are more of a business partner."
Reprinted by permission of the St. Louis Small Business Monthly