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One key to the continued success of small community banks in today's competitive environment is the ability to take advantage of technological advances where those advances provide for better customer service, present the bank to customers as progressive, and actually decrease expenses in the process. Bernice is a product that fits these parameters perfectly.


Stated simply, Bernice is a computer system that allows bank customers to obtain current account and loan information through a touch-tone telephone at any time of the day or night.


In our experience, there are several reasons that a bank purchases Bernice. Some bankers feel forced to add the service by competition. New customers that have had the service elsewhere demand it. And ads of neighboring banks touting their new services, the holdouts start to feel a little behind the times.


Others start to feel the impact of incessant telephone inquiries on the productivity of their staff. One of our first customers was to the point of interviewing for someone to just answer questions about accounts so his bookkeeping staff could concentrate on their other functions when he discovered Bernice. His savings were immediate.


And other users simply felt they wanted to maintain or improve their image as progressive and community-minded. They choose the options of weather reports and community bulletin boards for local organizations.


Whatever the reasons, customers love the service. One might think that there could be some negative reactions similar to those you hear about voice mail systems. But customers don't think of the service in the same terms. They are listening to a computer read the information because they chose to call the special number for that function. And in a small town, customers actually appreciate the anonymity of the system because they do not have to talk to a friend or neighbor who works at the bank about their accounts. And they can get all their questions answered without feeling they are monopolizing a clerk's time. Of course, there is always the option to talk to a real person with the touch of a single key during normal banking hours if the customer gets confused.


We are frequently asked what B.E.R.N.I.C.E. stands for. Well, it stands for nothing more than personal customer service. We encourage our customers to think of Bernice as a friendly addition to their personal service and to promote it that way to customers. Some of the names in use besides Bernice are Libby, Mrs. Green, and of course, Touch Tone Teller.



It takes only a few hours from the time our installer arrives to the time Bernice is answering your phone and responding to customer inquiries.


Prior to installation of the computer, your phone line or lines should be in place. You may start with a single line and add additional lines as they are required. The lines are just normal voice lines, not special data lines.


Even if you are anticipating low usage, you should consider starting with two lines. The average call is usually less than a minute in length which translates to 60 calls per hour. But a few customers may spend 5 or 6 minutes on the line and if that happens during a high-activity time, other customers could experience several busy signals. Statistics provided by the system help in the decision to add additional lines once the system is in use.


If you decide to use the FAX-back option, a separate line must be attached to the system for sending the FAX's, but that line may be shared with your existing FAX machine.


Normally, there is no need to run Bernice lines through your internal phone system. If you wish to enable the function that allows users to transfer to a customer services representative from the Bernice menu, you will need a "call transfer" option installed by your local telephone company on all Bernice lines connected directly to the computer.


If you do run Bernice lines through your internal phone system, the internal phone system should support "call transfer".


If you wish to support branch customers who would otherwise have to make a toll call, you can choose between an inbound WATS line or what is known as a "foreign exchange". The foreign exchange arrangement consists of a local number in a remote community with a leased line at a fixed monthly charge to your location.


For those customers with an internal phone system supporting the call transfer function and one or more foreign exchange lines serving branches in other communities, Bernice software comes set up with a secret code that allows employees at branch locations to use the foreign exchange line to contact any extension at the main bank toll free.


You will want your Bernice computer attached to a battery for backup power. Your customers will get used to using the service and they will let you know when it is not working because of a power failure.


If you use BANCADO software as your bank processing system, the Bernice computer will be connected to your main system using PCN-Term for terminal emulation. The physical connection may be either the standard serial adapter or through an optional ethernet network adapter. We do not recommend that the Bernice computer be used for other applications -- including regular use as a terminal -- to help ensure quick, smooth, reliable response to customer requests. During file download operations, an available license on your BANCADO system is used, so if you are short on licenses, another user will have to log off during that operation.


There is no printer supplied with the standard Bernice configuration. The software includes functions for printing logs, but the output can be directed to a network printer or can be stored on a diskette for printing on another computer. There are also statistical files which can be downloaded to diskette for importation into a spreadsheet program on another computer.


A tape backup device is available as an option. Although most data can be rebuilt through a fresh download from the main computer system, control files, logs, and the file containing your customers' PIN's should be backed up regularly onto either tape or diskette.



Your Bernice system comes with the required software pre-installed. Updates are supplied on self-installing diskettes.


The base operating system for Bernice is Windows 95. The directory structure for Bernice is as follows:


C:\BERNICE Base Directory

C:\BERNICE\DATA Working Data Files



C:\BERNICE\FAXES Storage for Sent Faxes

C:\BERNICE\PROGRAM Object Programs

C:\BERNICE\SCREENS Bernice Display Files

C:\BERNICE\VOICES Voice Description Files




C:\BERNICE\VOICES\VOICE3 Spanish Voice Files


There are also several control programs that are stored in the Windows System directory.


To install an update diskette, click the left mouse button on START and then RUN. Then type A:\SETUP and press <Enter> and follow the instructions on the screen.



Before launching Bernice for the first time, various Bernice options must be selected. From the Bernice Control Panel, click the left mouse button on the Setup button in the upper left-hand corner. The following window appears:











You may enter the name you've chosen for your system at the top. This name is not spoken, it only appears as a heading on reports and screen windows. All voices are recorded separately as described in a later section.


The first group of options on the left allows you to select which main menu selections you want your system to support.


First are the four basic types of customer accounts: Checking, Savings, Certificates of Deposit, and Loans. Click on the box next to each option to toggle the option on and off.


Next are the options for community bulletin boards and call transfer. Use of bulletin boards requires additional setup as described in the next section. Call transfer requires that your phone lines or phone system support the call transfer feature and that you enter the number to transfer calls to in the Transfer Number box. You may also specify the hours that call transfer is available.


The three menu selections for Bank Ad 1, 2, and 3 allow your customers to select from up to three special messages about bank services in addition to the normal account inquiries. For example, ad 1 may quote your current CD rates, ad 2 may talk about a special on automobile or home-equity loans, and ad 3 could state your normal banking hours. You may toggle these off and on periodically as your requirements change.


The last main menu option is for FAXBack. This option requires the purchase of optional software , a special FAXBack modem, and connection to a separate telephone line for sending FAXes.


You will note that there are could be a maximum of 10 main menu selections. Since we reserve the zero and nine for special functions, only 8 of the main menu options may be active at any one time. If you select more than 8, the second and third bank ads will be disabled as necessary.


The center column allows you to select which specific functions you will permit your customers to use in sub-menus. For example, on a deposit account balance inquiry, you may quote the ledger balance, the available balance, or both.


The right column of home banking PC ports will be used in our home PC banking option that is currently under development. Do not select any of the listed ports at this time.


After the main menu selections in the first column, the voice selection is made. You may select from male, female, or Spanish. Spanish is not normally selected since it can be selected by the caller on a per-call basis by entering 00# as soon as the phone is answered.


Under the voice option, you will see the option "Bank assigns all PIN's". By default, the system asks a first-time caller to enter their complete Social Security Number to verify that they are an owner of the account they are working with. If the correct Social Security Number is entered, the caller is asked to select their own secret PIN or Personal Identification Number to be used for identification on future calls. If the "Bank assigns all PIN's" option is selected, first-time callers are instructed to call the bank to activate their accounts on the system and receive their PIN.


In the lower left, you may change the number of rings required before the system answers calls. It is normally set at 1.


The Save and Exit button saves your selections to a control file on disk and closes the program. The Cancel button cancels any changes you have made and closes the setup program.


The other two buttons -- Bulletin Boards and Setup Merchants -- are described in the next two sections.



As a community service, you may give up to eight groups a special section to record messages that can be accessed by callers.


From the Setup screen, click on the Bulletin Boards button and the following window will appear:

  Enter the name of up to 8 organizations that will use a bulletin board and assign a 5 to 8-digit PIN to each of them.

You will record a special sub-menu with the organizations' names as described in the Recording Voices section later.

Representatives of the named organizations can change their recorded messages at any time by calling Bernice. Instead of listening to the menu, they simply press the zero key and the system asks for their PIN followed by the pound-sign key. (Since customer PIN's are only 4 digits, there is no chance that a customer will accidentally record a bulletin board message.) The representative then records and reviews the organization's message and hangs up.


 An optional special inquiry is available for merchants to verify that an account currently contains sufficient funds to cover a check in the merchant's possession.

 Merchants are given an individual 5 to 8-digit PIN to identify themselves.

 From the Setup window, click the Setup Merchants button and following window appears:



 Enter up to 15 merchant names and their individual special codes. Click on Save and Exit to save your entries to disk.

When merchants call, instead of listening to the menu, they simply press the zero key and the system asks for their PIN followed by the pound-sign key. (Since customer PIN's are only 4 digits, there is no chance that a customer will accidentally enter this section.) The merchant is then asked for a check amount and an account number to verify.

There are no special voice recordings required for this option since the merchants names are never spoken.



There are a few special functions that can be performed from any telephone by bank personnel. To accomplish this, Bernice includes a hidden menu that is accessed in a manner similar to the way that merchant inquiries and bulletin board administration functions are activated.

 When the employee calls, instead of listening to the menu, they simply press the zero key and the system asks for their PIN followed by the pound-sign key. (Since customer PIN's are only 4 digits, there is no chance that a customer will accidentally enter this section.) The employee then enters 051544#. As a further security precaution, the system asks the employee to re-enter the PIN for verification. Instead of repeating the same sequence, the employee enters 092775#. Then the system gives the following menu:

 1 - Delete PIN

2 - Record an advertisement

3 - Record all messages

9 - Exit

 When a customer forgets their PIN, an employee can enter this menu, select 1, and enter the customer's Social Security Number to delete the customer's PIN thereby causing the system to treat them as a new caller on their next call. This function can also be accomplished through the Set Pin button on the Bernice Control Panel.

 Since the bank's ads may be changed frequently, the function of changing the ads has been made accessible through the normal live Bernice line. An employee can access the hidden menu, select number 2, and re-record both the menu description for the ad and the ad copy itself.

 The third hidden function, record all messages, is rarely used since it is generally more convenient to be seated at the Bernice console during the recording session so that the text of the messages can be viewed.



 There are four types of recorded messages used by your Bernice system. They are:

 Bank advertisements

Bulletin board messages

Bernice menus, instructions, and element descriptions

Numbers and dates

Bank advertisements are normally recorded by a bank employee using the method described in the section titled "Hidden Bank Menu", although they can also be recorded using one of the methods described under Recording Bernice menus, instructions, and element descriptions below.

 Bulletin board messages are normally recorded by representatives of the organizations with bulletin boards. The representatives call the Bernice telephone number, and during the welcome message, press the zero key. The system then asks for a PIN followed by the pound-sign key. When a valid bulletin board PIN is entered, the system allows the caller to record and review the bulletin board message.



 Many banks prefer to have a bank employee whose voice is familiar to customers record the menus, instructions, and element descriptions used by Bernice. Others use a local professional such as a local radio or television announcer. Still others prefer to use the standard voices supplied with the system.

 As noted in the "Option Setup" section, you may choose from three different voices for Bernice. They are identified as male, female, and Spanish. It is recommended that you maintain these distinctions, but it is not absolutely necessary. The male voice messages are those recorded and stored in the directory C:\BERNICE\VOICES\VOICE1. The female voice messages are those recorded and stored in the directory C:\BERNICE\VOICES\VOICE2. And the Spanish voice messages are those recorded and stored in the directory C:\BERNICE\VOICES\VOICE3.

 Two methods are provided for recording these messages.

 The preferred method is with the person doing the recording seated at the Bernice console. From the Bernice control panel, select the "Record Messages" button and the window shown on the following page is displayed.








Select either the Bulletins section or the individual voice you wish to work with. Then click on File to select the individual message to be recorded. When you select File, the following is displayed:

  Once you select an individual message, you are returned to the recording control window and another window showing a description of the message and the actual text of the message is displayed. You may edit the description and/or the text of the message, but you should do so carefully so that the same basic meaning is maintained.




 The Bernice Control Panel is always located in the lower right portion of the screen. It is used to activate all other Bernice functions. Simply click with the left button of your mouse on the appropriate button as described throughout this manual.


The following shows the normal appearance of the Bernice display while the system is in operation.








In the upper left of the screen is the display for your first voice line. Additional lines appear sequentially to the right. When a line is not in use, the word AIDLE@ appears in the status bar. When it is activated by a customer call, the color changes and the words AIN USE@ appear. There is also information about the current status of the call, which customer is on-line, and the section of the program currently in use.

In the lower right of the screen is the Bernice control panel which is described in Section 16.9.

Above the control panel is the graphical usage display which is described in the following section, 16.11.




 The graphical usage display contains information about your customers= use of the telephone system. Included is a bar chart of usage in two-your increments throughout the day as well as an indication of the percentage of your customers who have a PIN assigned. The current date and time are shown. After a file import is run, the time that the import function completed is also shown.



 When the ALaunch@ button is selected from the Bernice Control Panel, the following window is displayed:











All installed voice lines and data modems are automatically shown, so in normal operation, the operator simply clicks on the Launch button. If you have a two-line board installed but have only one voice line, you should click on the Launch Line 1 Only button.

It may take a few minutes for the display for each line to become visible while tables are loaded into the computer. This is done so that the time spent looking up information while customers are on the line is kept to a minimum. Be patient.

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