Royal Bank deploys imaging, voice technology

Clients of RBC Royal Bank are now able to take advantage of leading edge technology that retrieves cancelled cheques in seconds rather than days, and will soon be able to identify themselves entirely through their own voices, when banking by telephone.

“Digital imaging and interactive voice response will help us make banking more convenient and less complicated for everyone,” Jim Rager, vice-chairman, RBC Financial Group, told a group of analysts and investors in October.

“Regardless of whether our clients bank with us in person, via computer, or by phone, we want to provide them with service and value that differentiate us from our competitors. We are continually looking for new technology solutions to help us accomplish this.”

Digital imaging involves taking a picture of virtually every cheque and deposit that goes through clients’ accounts, which are then stored in a digital archive. Images can be retrieved in seconds from the digital archive, significantly reducing the length of time currently required to trace cheques using microfilm.

“With over 1.2 million requests a year, the process of tracing cheques has long been a source of frustration for clients and employees alike, as it often required days and in some cases weeks,” added Rod Pennycook, executive vice-president, RBC Banking. “Digital imaging will allow us to give our clients an immediate response to their enquiries, either in the branch or by telephone.”

The digital imaging capability is currently being used within RBC Royal Bank’s operations and telephone banking centres, and will be expanded to branch banking employees across Canada before the end of this year. The bank plans to make the technology available to its online banking clients in the spring of 2004, which will allow clients to conveniently view imaged items online.

Natural language speech recognition to authenticate an individual’s unique voiceprint is scheduled to be in place by January 2004. The bank expects clients will find it easier and quicker to do their banking by telephone with My Voice which uses natural language speech recognition to identify clients and receive instructions and eliminate button pressing.

In early August 2004, My Voice will be expanded to enable clients to do all their banking by simply saying what they want to do, whether it’s paying bills, transferring funds, buying a GIC or getting a loan. The touch-tone feature will continue to run in parallel with My Voice. Wendy Wynn, SVP, Electronic Channels, RBC Royal Bank expects their 2.5 million telephone banking clients will find it “quicker, more secure, and more user-friendly than anything they have had before.”