PNC Tests CheckFree Upgrading Of Bill-Payment Customer Care

NORCROSS, Ga. - PNC Bank is testing a service from CheckFree Holdings Corp. designed to improve service to customers who receive and pay bills over the Internet. CheckFree said it expects to make its Web Sponsor Care service widely available in May.The service lets customer service representatives at financial companies use standard Web browsers to connect to CheckFree's Genesis 2000 customer care data base. The reps can check on the status of electronic bills and payments being processed through the CheckFree system while talking to customers on the phone.

CheckFree, a Norcross-based company, consolidates electronic bills for companies, presents them at a variety of Web sites - including those of banks - and operates an electronic bill payment service used by many financial companies.

"Comprehensive customer care tools are especially critical with Internet billing and payment applications," said Avivah Litan, research director at GartnerGroup of Stamford, Conn. "According to recent GartnerGroup consumer and biller research, a major barrier to widespread use of this application is consumers' fear of losing control over their money. Control can be regained with tracking tools that let consumers know exactly what happened to their payment instructions."

CheckFree charges a monthly fee for the service, which varies depending on the number of service representatives using it.


Calif. Firm Says Customer Ranks Up 225% for Call Center Software

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. - Blue Pumpkin Software Inc., which sells systems to help call center managers make staffing decisions, said it added 78 customers in the fourth quarter, ending the year with 325, a 225% increase from 1998.The addition of financial institution customers in the fourth quarter, including American Express, Fannie Mae, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, contributed to a tripling of revenue in 1999, the privately held company said.

Blue Pumpkin's PrimeTime Enterprise and PrimeTime Skills software packages forecast call volume for weeks ahead, calculate how many agents are required on certain shifts, build a work force schedule, and compare results with expectations.

Ofer Matan, co-founder and chief technical officer at Blue Pumpkin, said its work force management software can help call centers cut their costs by 10% to 15%.

Blue Pumpkin has 50 financial services customers for its PrimeTime software. These include Freddie Mac, MasterCard International, Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Mutual Group of Canada, NextCard, and Union Bank of California.

"If agents are less stressed, they give better service," Mr. Matan said. "We help companies allocate their resources in a better fashion."

-- Carol Power

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