Most credit cardholders know that the credit card industry made a decision to outsource call-in service centers to overseas locations where English is the second or third language. That decision was made to save operational costs on labor. Yet, what is the ongoing impact on North American credit cardholders?
This article discusses the five most common communication problems that negatively impact North American credit card customers today as a result of the outsourcing of customer service centers.
While these problems could have been predicted had credit card industry decision makers studied the literature on the complexities of language proficiency and culture, they didn’t. Now the industry is grappling with makeshift solutions to extreme customer dissatisfaction.
The Customer’s Need – Quick Financial Solutions
In each of the five examples below, a credit cardholder has called his credit card company, or is responding to a new credit offer, in hopes of finding a financial solution to a financial problem. He may need a new credit card so he can pay medical bills. He may need to get his car fixed so he can get to work. He may need a balance transfer in order to reduce his interest rate and avoid bankruptcy. Yet, whatever his need, it is likely that any problem or delay in getting that financial solution in place will cost him time, frustration and money.
Yet, as ubiquitous as credit card transactions have become, their success in providing quick financial solutions for credit cardholders depends upon precise written and oral communication. This includes the accurate keying in of all relevant information and the conveying of accurate interest rates, financial terms and repayment obligations, all of which become part of a legally-binding contract between the credit card customer and the company with which he does business.
The Agent’s Job – More Complex Than Realized
The job of credit card agent is, sometimes, mocked because of the low pay it commands. However, to do the job well requires that an agent be an expert oral communicator with superior reading skills who can answer a customer’s questions while quickly sorting through what is, sometimes, confusing, duplicated or poorly organized on-line information.
These complex language skills, however, have been misunderstood, underestimated and undervalued, as illustrated by five common problems that occur when an agent does not have them.
The Five Most Common Problems
1. Overlooking Account Restrictions
An agent overlooks a “restriction” on a credit card account and the transaction fails.
A restriction is something that prevents or limits the use of a credit card. The most common restriction results from the fact that a credit card has not yet been “activated.” The procedure for activating the card usually requires that the customer call a specific 800 number that is listed on the new card and confirm, through an automated system, that he has received the card.
A customer can also place a restriction on a card, such as a dollar amount limit for individual transactions. Yet, sometimes, a customer will opt to put a restriction on his account and then forget that he has done so.
It is up to the agent to scan the account for restrictions and make sure there is nothing to prevent the transaction from going through. Yet, noticing the presence of those restrictions requires fast, careful and accurate reading.
Overseas agents, more than North American agents, tend to overlook restrictions, such as when a new account has not yet been activated.
2. Spelling Errors
An agent makes a spelling error in the documentation for the “receiving” account in a balance transfer transaction and it fails to go through.
Should the company name or address of the receiving account be misspelled, the transaction will fail. Misspellings most often occur because overseas agents are not familiar with American geography or place names. Common mistakes: “J C Penney” is spelled “J C Penny” or MA is used as the abbreviation for the state of Maine instead of ME.
3. Sending Money To An Account That how to become a credit card processor Cannot Receive It
An inexperienced agent does not know a transaction is not possible.
Some bank checking accounts allow direct deposits from credit card companies, others do not. An inexperienced overseas agent, unfamiliar with U.S. banks, often will not have access to this information. He will, subsequently, attempt to send money to a bank account that cannot accept it.
4. Misreading An Offer
A balance transfer offer is read incorrectly and a customer is either trapped in a high rate or assessed an unexpected fee
Based upon his reading of on-screen offer #5, the agent believes that a customer will pay 0% interest on his balance transfer for 12 months if he opts for offer #5, and he tells the customer so. A more accurate reading of the documentation reveals that offer #5 has a provision which will require that customer to pay 18% interest on his balance transfer.
While there was a balance transfer offer with an introductory interest rate of 0%, because the information can be poorly laid out, confusing and even duplicated, the agent misreads or misses the fine print and selects the offer with an 18% APR by mistake.
Or, the agent chooses the offer that requires an upfront fee for a balance transfer.
Or a 3% fee is part of an offer that the customer, inadvertently, chooses because the agent either a) did not read that part, b) read it but did not understand that the customer would be billed a fee, and/or c) did not convey to the customer that the fee was part of the offer.
5. Selection Of Wrong On-Screen Offer