Striking out into relatively new territory in the bank outsourcing business, Alltel Information Systems Inc. has signed an agreement with National Commerce Bancorp., Memphis

The five-year outsourcing contract turns over management of the bank's telephone customer service center to the Little Rock-based subsidiary of Alltel Corp. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Alltel Information officials said this was their first comprehensive agreement to manage a bank's call center. The technology company is one of the leaders in offering data processing support to banks.

While even some the largest banks have been willing to farm out significant portions of the back-office support functions, few have been willing to turn over their call center operations, a increasingly critical link between customers less willing or able to visit traditional branches.

"This agreement is strategic ... because it gives us the ability to increase the level of service we provide to a growing number of customers who choose to do their banking any time, at any place, not just during traditional banking hours," said John L. LeCave, senior vice president and director of sales at $3.7 billion-asset National Commerce. "By outsourcing the call center to Alltel, (the bank) has lowered its risk and costs by leveraging Alltel's technology investment methodologies, expertise, and human resources."

As part of the agreement, Alltel will install its Customer Service Workstation, a Microsoft Windows-based system that uses client/server technology to access customer information and to initiate transactions.

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