Bank One Corp. says its efforts to develop cutting-edge customer technology in-house have paid off in its new Adios dispute-handling software.

Adios handles customer claims involving disputes over transactions made by debit card, automated teller machine, automated clearing house, and the Internet. Bank One customers file roughly 18,000 such claims a month.

Using in-house talent slashed development costs while improving the morale of technology employees, the Chicago company says.

The development team was "really jazzed" by the assignment - "not so much with the idea of developing a whiz-bang program, but with the idea that it was cool to develop a strategically critical system that would provide enormous value to customers," said Bruce Luecke, executive vice president of Bank One's retail group.

He spoke last month at the Financial IT Executive Congress.

Using Adios, Bank One has cut customer service processes that typically took nine steps and nearly 10 days to just two steps and five days, Mr. Luecke said.

"We are moving quickly to two days," he added.

Bank One has also lowered its head count for this type of processing by 35%, and eliminated the need for many data-entry skills, he said.

The Bank One team built the system in three months, Mr. Luecke said; consulting firms that bid on the project had estimated it would take 12, he said. And though the bank team budgeted one-sixth of the amount estimated by the consulting firms, it delivered the product under budget, Mr. Luecke said.

The savings went toward bonuses for the group, he said. "Can you imagine the motivational impact of giving a $50,000-a-year programmer an unexpected $10,000 bonus?" Mr. Luecke said.

In addition, he said, employees got to work "on something really cool, as opposed to just executing on a litany of routine fixes."

Bank One normally outsources large commodity systems applications, Mr. Luecke said, and it even has one of banking's largest outsourcing contracts, with AT&T Solutions Inc. and International Business Machines Corp.

"In contrast, we will try to insource strategically important customer applications," Mr. Luecke said.

Bank One's 50/50 home equity loan application process, which lets consumers apply for a home equity line of credit in all 50 states and get an answer in 50 seconds, was one of those projects, he said.

The service, which lets consumers send money to one another by computer, was also developed in-house, he said. And the company is now introducing Launchpad, a system that will let service representatives throughout the company access customer information, process requests, track activities, and resolve problems through Web-based software.

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