Phone banking is becoming an integral part of Standard Chartered Bank's retail business in terms of both sales and service, according to Doreen Chan, the bank's head of personal banking. The phone banking service offered is one of the oldest in Hong Kong but the bank is looking at enhancing it. With the standard service, callers can access account-related services, get exchange rate or interest rate information, report lost cards, perform third party fund transfers or pay bills. The bank recently expanded the system by segmenting the service so that different services were offered on different telephone numbers. As well as the standard phone banking service, Standard Chartered now offers a priority banking hotline, mortgage hotline, security express hotline, customer care hotline and product hotlines. Ms Chan said this was in line with the bank's overall strategy of segmenting services to cater for customer's needs. Security Express is the bank's stock trading service, and with the hotline customers can get quotes and trade in local stocks over the telephone. When calling the customer care hotline, callers are connected to the customer relations unit, whose operators are on hand 24 hours a day to take customer's complaints. Meanwhile, with the product hotline, customers can get information on credit cards, personal loans and travel insurance. This information can either be faxed to the caller, or the caller can be connected to a telesales executive. Unless the caller wants to be connected to an operator, the call is handled entirely by the bank's custom-designed VRU (voice response unit). According to Ms Chan, about 90 per cent of all calls are now handled by the VRU, without the need for connecting to operators in the bank's call centre. As well as freeing up staff from handling basic enquiries, the VRU also allows the bank to collect information on its customers. The call centre - located in Cityplaza - is manned from 9 am until 8 pm. It is the first call centre in Asia to have received ISO 9002 certification. Ms Chan said the next enhancements to the system would involve further computer telephony integration, so that call centre staff can get a customer's information displayed on screen when they answer a call. Overall, she said the system was very important because it generated flexibility and convenience for the customer. She said the bank was not too concerned about the cost of operating the call centre, but were instead looking at it from a customer's standpoint.