Old Kent Contracts with Alltel/ICT Partnership

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Old Kent Mortgage Services Inc., Grand Rapids, MI, is the first mortgage lender to sign up with the team of Alltel and the ICT Group to enhance its call center operations. Alltel, Little Rock, AR, will provide the software for ICT, Amherst, NY, whose staff will field the overflow and calls made to Old Kent's call center after hours.

Old Kent will be able to extend customer service hours to include weekday evenings and weekends. Between 300 and 500 calls daily will be answered by ICT.

"The services Alltel and ICT Group are providing will enable us consistently to meet our customer service levels," said David Morgan, customer service manager for Old Kent. "We will also be able to expand our operations, resulting in higher retention rates and a lower cost per call. Their joint solution means we benefit from the best of both companies - the information technology and call center experience of Alltel and the best practices of ICT Group's customer acquisition and service. We will also have the two companies' financial industry expertise."

Mike Burns, director of sales and marketing for Old Kent, said he was excited to have the opportunity to demonstrate the advantages of the Alltel and ICT partnership to Old Kent and other mortgage lenders.

"This is the first of what we hope will be many partnered solutions from Alltel and the ICT Group," he said.

Old Kent will implement the system in phases. In the first phase Old Kent will outsource the highest volume inquiries, such as tax bill questions, loan payoff requests and general payoff questions, coupon requests, and loan histories. The next phase will cover more complex customer services such as escrow analysis.

Alltel and ICT will also provide support for year-end tax statements and other seasonal communications.

"The outsourced portion is going to be based on call volumes," said Antoinette Forth, vice president of business development for ICT. "We will be leveling out their call volume so they won't have high peaks during the day."

Alltel provides information, processing management, outsourcing services and application software to financial, mortgage and telecommunications companies with customers in 48 countries. ICT operates call centers that specialize in the financial and insurance industries, as well as service in the areas of telecommunications, healthcare, information media, energy and hospitality companies. It employs 4,000 telephone service representatives at 32 telecenters across the country.

"Old Kent is our first mortgage service client," Forth said. "This is not for sales; it is strictly customer service."

To properly service Old Kent, the ICT's call center operators learned about the different types of mortgages available, the mathematics of a mortgage loan, and how to use the Alltel service software.

"The training was a two-day period and was specific to Old Kent," said Forth. "As clients are added on to our system, our operators will train on the mortgage certification process, learn about the Alltel/ICT group policy and the client."

John McCabe, president of marketing services for ICT, said this was a true example of bankers working with bankers.

"We are pleased to join Alltel in leveraging our respective knowledge and experience in financial services to serve Old Kent's broad customer base," he said.

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