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Credit-Card Company Calls On Web Services

Service gives call-center agents fast access to customer information, reducing costs associated with long phone calls

CartaSi S.P.A, one of Europe's largest credit-card companies, says it's having great success with a Web service implemented nearly two years ago that lets its call-center agents more rapidly process some 50,000 customer calls that come in daily.

CartaSi, which has 7.5 million credit cards outstanding and services 16 banks in Italy, implemented NetManage Inc.'s OnWeb at a cost of about $100,000. It calls up customer data located on multiple applications in its mainframe systems and captures it for presentation in HTML pages, says Luca Bellati, who heads demand management at CartaSi. Previously, agents had to call up separate applications to answer different questions related to a customer's account, with each app requiring a series of steps. That sometimes resulted in lengthy phone calls. The new system gives agents quick access to all of a customer's information via a Web browser.

CartaSi has recently expanded access to the service to 350 employees from 200 employees 18 months ago. "Without customer information as a Web service, calls would be of greater duration than we have now," Bellati says. That's an expensive problem, as the alternative is to hire more staff to handle the calls and pay higher telecom costs. By avoiding those costs, Bellati says, the system paid for itself within the first 12 months of implementation.

This article originally appeared in InformationWeek, Jan. 12, 2004

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek, having joined the publication in 2003. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse ... View Full Bio

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