Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

Sybase CEO: Call centers may become passe’

May 18, 2009

Someone stealing your identity? Using your credit card to buy a flat screen TV…in Germany? Credit card companies often catch those shopping anomalies and quickly alert you. But Sybase CEO John Chen says that increasingly you may not get a phone call asking “are you in Germany right now?”

That’s because companies are trying to save money by using new technology. So rather than staff a room full of people to call you when they detect a problem — they will automate the process. You’ll simply get a text message.

Because everybody is trying to save money, they are trying to get rid of the call center and use mobile messaging instead. We have a major account with Citibank – we ran all of their¬† mobile fraud alerts. Let’s say you are here right now, and somebody is using your credit card to buy a washer and dryer in Brazil. Normally what they would do is call you on the phone and…make sure that you are the (right) person, to confirm. We are now rolling out with Citibank cards around the world that they are now texting you. And they say if this is not a right thing, you should call us or text back to us. The good news about that is it will reach you around the world 7/24.

He noted that this does not portend the end of the call center as we know it, and certain demographics will never fully embrace the idea that your bank — you know, where you keep your money –¬† might “text” you.

It’s a very generational thing. Like with my kids; they are more comfortable doing that — more comfortable (even) than with email.

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