Meca Software LLC is known almost exclusively as the maker of Managing Your Money personal financial management software, but it hopes that perception will change beginning Aug. 1.
On that date, the Trumbull, Conn., company plans to expand the technical support it offers for banks' on-line programs.
The business, which has grown out of some individual arrangements Meca has made with 10 banks, will give bank customers a place to get help when using any on-line banking product-with the exception of those offered through Intuit Inc. and Microsoft Corp.
"We view technical support as a business that is often foreign to what a bank does day-to-day," said Kathleen M. Bromage, chief financial officer and vice president of operations at Meca.
She said most customers only intended to use Meca's services for a short time. When several decided to extend their relationship, Meca realized it had a business opportunity on its hands.
Two years ago, Meca employed 20 people in the support function. It now employs 230 and operates a call center seven days a week from 8 a.m. to midnight.
The training of support personnel features three weeks of quizzes, exams, and lectures on U.S. banking rules and regulations. Technicians are monitored five times a month, and bank clients can monitor remotely.
"Our technicians have to understand the information and the philosophy of the company they are supporting," said Betsy Elrick, director of customer support at Meca.
Because each bank has its own toll-free number, customer support employees can readily identify the bank they are supporting as a call is received.
Technical support is offered in English and French (for Royal Bank of Canada customers). Spanish and Asian languages are to be added eventually.
Meca handles 60,000 calls per month, with most lasting seven to 15 minutes. Meca gets paid 80 cents to $1.50 per minute, depending on the bank it is serving and the volume of calls handled.
Most calls are questions about how to get a modem connected. "The customer has to get on-line first time around, or else we're shelfware," said Ms. Elrick.
Call traffic is heaviest on paydays and Mondays. When people call from home in the evenings and on weekends, calls tend to last longer.
Meca builds monthly reports of statistics on the identity of end users- how often they call, why they call, the average length of the call, and when they called. Meca's center uses software from Quintus Corp. of Fremont, Calif., to track calls and monitor service quality.
"We can categorize calls and get a sense of call patterns," said Ms. Elrick. "We're trying to pass on as much information to our customers as possible."
The bank, meanwhile, gives Meca daily updates on customers who have ordered Managing Your Money. When Meca receives notification of a new customer, it ships the software out.
The company sends about 1,500 to 2,000 products daily, and about 45,000 end-users have been enrolling in each of the last few months. These figures are likely to rise when Citicorp begins offering a Meca product this year.