Chicago-based Byline Bank officials say call volume is close to normal again after the bank’s conversion of systems in the merger of Evanston’s First Bank & Trust on Feb. 25 generated a flood of calls from customers with questions about accessing the new platforms.

Customers from Evanston as well as Chicago faced long wait times on phone lines as they sought help accessing their accounts online.

 “How soon until more folks can answer the ‘helpline’ to help us get online after it’s been locking everyone out?” complained one customer on social media.

One Evanston resident acknowledged receiving print information from Byline explaining the switch.

The communication “that was sent by mail made it appear if you had questions, you could get help and you couldn’t – obviously,” she said, “because the lines were so bogged down.”

Chicago-based Byline acquired First Bank & Trust last year for just under $179 million. Officials say the migration of the two systems went smoothly over the weekend.

On Mon., Feb. 25, after the new system went live, call volumes spiked, though, said Erin O’Neill, Byline’s Vice President, Director of Marketing.

“Earlier in the week, we saw a significant rise in customer account lockouts on our new online banking and mobile platforms, and experienced limited issues with our debit card activation system, which resulted in higher than anticipated call volume,” she elaborated. “We have responded by increasing resources and continue to work aggressively to address customer questions as they come in. We regret the inconvenience and frustration this may have caused, and remain committed to continually improving the level of service we provide.”

Byline officials believe the call volume was largely driven by questions about User ID and password recovery, and not actual challenges with accessing the system, Ms. O’Neill said.

The company has addressed the situation by “increasing resources and continuing to work aggressively to address customer questions as they come in,” she said.

She said call volumes declined steadily as the week progressed, “and we are currently close to our normal volume of calls,” she said on March 5.

“Our customers are always our top priority, for any business decision we make at Byline Bank,” Ms. O’Neill stressed. “On Monday, we completed a planned system conversion to ensure we have the ability to better serve our customers – not only today, but into the future, as well.

“Over the past five years, we’ve worked hard to stay true to our roots as a community bank committed to delivering personalized service and investing in our neighborhoods and communities,” Ms. O’Neill said. “We’re grateful for each and every customer who has chosen to bank locally with us, and we’re confident that in the long-run, that the investments we’ve made in our platform will benefit our customers and help us to deliver on our mission of becoming the bank our customers deserve.”

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.