One of the regular readers of my blog recently told me that she enjoyed my entries about my place of employment. Given that, I decided to post an entry this week regarding one of my hot buttons . . . my handle time.

As a rep, I am kept to an absolute maximum average of three minutes per call to get a “met” on my scorecard. However, I start losing money from my incentive if my average is above 159 seconds. Now, you may think that this isn’t enough time to handle your situation. Try telling that to the other hundred or so people who are waiting for you to get off of the line. I can fix 99% of problems in under two minutes, if the card member with whom I am speaking will allow it. To help, I’ve come up with a list of things that a caller can do to help me to get them off the line faster:

1. BE PREPARED-When you call, be sure that you have your account number, the primary card holder’s mother’s maiden name or password, a writing utensil and, for good form, the security code from the signature panel on the back of the card (usually needed for address changes, adding card users and for balance transfers). I always lose precious time when some idiot, after I ask him for his account number, says, “I knew you were gonna ask for that.” I usually want to strangle him while demanding, “WHY DIDN’T YOU HAVE IT READY, THEN?!”

2. DON’T VERIFY INFO IF WE DON’T ASK-We will verify your mother’s maiden name or password, your Social Security Number, your date of birth or recent transactions. We only need you to verify your address if we have to send you something. And we never need your shoe size. Don’t add something as a joke. Taking up valuable time is not funny.

3. IF WE TELL YOU THAT WE’RE WAIVING A FEE, THEN SHUT UP ABOUT IT-I hate it when someone calls in and requests a fee waiver and I tell them that I can waive it, then they say, “Thanks. I don’t know why it got there late. I mailed it the day before it was due” (for this one, see below). Just thank me and be on your way.

4. DON’T ASSUME THAT WE GET THE MAIL THE NEXT DAY OR THAT THE PAYMENT ONLY HAS TO BE POSTMARKED BY THE DUE DATE-I know that it’s going to be a long call when someone calls up to say, “Why’d I get a late fee? I mailed it before the due date.” It has to be in our center before or on the due date. Your postmark means nothing.

5. DON’T SPELL YOUR NAME IF NOT ASKED-“This is Joe Smith. J-O-E S-M-I-T-H.” We have the spelling of your name. We don’t need for you to give it to us.

6. IF YOU KNOW THAT YOUR NAME ISN’T ON THE ACCOUNT, THEN DON’T BOTHER CALLING-We can’t help you with ANYTHING-other than making a payment or reporting the card member’s demise. PERIOD.

7. DON’T ASK THE SAME QUESTIONS OVER AND OVER-“So, you’re going to waive the late fee?” “Yes, sir.” “And I’ll see it on the next statement?” “Yes, sir.” “And it’ll be waived?” “Yes, sir.” “And it’s going to be on the next statement?” “Yes, sir!” Dig the peanut butter out of your ears, people!

8. IF WE SAY THAT WE CAN’T WAIVE A FEE, JUST GO AHEAD AND ASK FOR A MANAGER-They’ll probably say no, as well. But, they have more time to listen to you gripe.

9. IF WE SAY NO TO AN APR DECREASE, THEN YOU’RE NOT GETTING ONE . . . PERIOD-No one with whom you can speak has the authority to change this. Chewing out the rep won’t make a difference. Neither will speaking with a supervisor.

10. LEARN TO READ YOUR STATEMENT-Okay, this isn’t difficult. If you pay your statement balance every month, then it is from the day that the statement prints, not from the day that we receive your payment. If your statement prints on the 2nd, then you make other purchases before we receive your statement payment on the 16th, then you try to calculate it from the day that we received the payment, then of course it’s going to seem off! You’re ignoring fourteen days worth of charges!

11. IF WE ASK IF THERE IS ANYTHING ELSE THAT WE CAN HELP YOU WITH, DON’T TELL US NO, THEN CHANGE YOUR MIND-Once we log out of your account, we have to log back in, which costs precious time. Also, it looks bad on us if we had to log back into your account, as if we hadn’t done our jobs properly by servicing all of your needs at one time, even though it was, well, your fault.

12. IF YOUR CARD COMPANY IS THERE 24/7, THEN DON’T CALL FROM WORK-I had a horribly long call the other day. The reason was that a secretary was calling from her job to discuss her card. Every time I tried to say something, she had to put me on hold to answer the phone. The company I work for is there twenty-four hours for your convenience. Call back when you get home.

13. IF WE DIDN’T RECEIVE YOUR PAYMENT, THEN WE CANNOT HELP YOU-Keeping me on the phone to look up what check number that you sent won’t make the payment magically appear at our payment center. Hang up and call your bank to see if it has cleared. If it has not, put a stop payment on it, and then send us another payment. If it has, get the date that it cleared and call us back with that info and we’ll get you to the correct department to help you.

14. DON’T ASSUME THAT WE ARE AT FAULT FOR A FALSE CHARGE ON YOUR ACCOUT-If you canceled your AOL account and they are still billing you, don’t call us to yell at us. It’s not our fault and we can’t make them stop billing you. We can dispute each individual charge, but the same laws that allow us to do that also protect merchants from credit card issuers singling them out to not pay. Sorry, that’s just the way it is.

15. IF YOU ARE A MERCHANT OR A BANK CALLING TO DO A VERIFICATION, DON’T SAVE THEM UP BEFORE YOU CALL US-I had a call from a bank this week in which the representative was calling to verify available funds on credit card checks for some of our customers who had cashed them there. She had waited until she had almost FOURTY accounts before she had bothered to call in-I assume to help her to be more productive with her time. Unfortunately, the nearly thirty-minute call was DEFINITELY not productive for me, and hurt my handle time for the rest of the day. If you work at a bank and this is something that you do, don’t save up more than five. Any more than that is, at best, discourteous.

16. DON’T TELL US YOUR LIFE STORY-I don’t care if your son beat up the honor student. I’m not a buddy with whom you can chat. I’m not a trained psychiatrist. I am a credit card representative who is there to help you with your account.

That’s all I can think of right now. If more come to me, I’ll put them up later.

Until Next Time, God Bless

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