Direct Line's UKI partnership division is piloting a call centre management system.

The system, developed by Ohio-based Virtual Hold Technology, identifies calls that are queuing, and gives waiting customers several choices.

These include scheduling a return call during the time that they are on hold, or to a telephone number of their choice, up to seven days in advance,

UKI Partnerships product development manager

John Eaton said: "The key advantage is that it helps manage periods of uncertainty when forecasting and marketing.

"This ensures that, regardless of the volume of calls, all customers will be dealt with. It also helps manage call volumes, reduces abandonment at peak times and gives customers more choice."

And if all goes to plan, UKI will extend the system to 24 hours a day all year round.

Customers using Tesco personal finance products will be first to try the new technology when they call the customer service centre in Doncaster.