An interactive voice response system for bankruptcy case information now provides case information to callers in Spanish.
Developed by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS) is used by 93 of the nation’s 94 bankruptcy courts.
Last year, more than 2 million callers dialed McVCIS to listen to bankruptcy case information that includes debtors’ names, method of case disposition, bankruptcy chapter, reported assets, case status, discharge date and more. “McVCIS is an important tool for bankruptcy courts,” said Bankruptcy Judge Margaret Mahoney of the Southern District of Alabama. “Our court has several hundred Chapter 13 confirmations per week. To be able to let debtors and creditors obtain basic case information over the telephone with this system allows us to be responsive to the public while saving our clerk’s office many hours.”
Previously, users could call and enter requests for information by speaking or using the buttons on a touch-tone phone. However, voice recognition and responses were in English. Now, with the recent implementation of a Spanish voice module, callers can request and hear all case information in Spanish. In its first month, the Spanish module logged more than 300 calls.
John Caron, system administrator, and Sinan Mimaroglu, lead programmer, for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts, helped develop McVCIS as a national application under the Edwin L. Nelson Local Initiatives Program. When asked why, in a computer-dominated age, a voice-response system is so popular, Caron said, “For one thing, not everybody has a computer. This application provides the public with an alternative way to obtain bankruptcy case information that is accessible and free. Anyone can dial in on a toll-free number and get public information from any bankruptcy court offering the service.”
One challenge in having the system respond to requests in Spanish is that the accents can vary depending on the caller’s country of origin, so a somewhat generic approach had to be taken. Staff from the Massachusetts Bankruptcy Court and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts will be working on enhancements to the new module during the next few months.