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Credit Card Customer Service: Getting the Best Results from You Call

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Whether it is a small mistake on your part or a big question about your credit card, most credit card customers inevitably end up calling credit card customer service for help at some point. As you’ve probably noticed, your experience when calling in for customer service can vary dramatically. While the random dose of luck from the customer service representative (CSR) has something to do with it, your words and actions on the call have a significant impact on your outcome.

Credit card customer service reps have a tough job keeping angry callers happy. Credit Loan recently surveyed over 200 credit card customer service representatives to understand better what works and what doesn’t when calling in for help. Follow along to learn what they said and for expert advice on getting the best results from your credit card customer service call.

Being rude never got anyone anywhere

In your career, have you ever been approached by a rude customer or client? How did you respond? If someone is rude to you, you’ll probably respond in kind. Or at least you won’t bend over backward to help them out.

During my time as a bank manager, I often dealt with unhappy customers looking to get overdraft fees waived, among other complaints. Once someone came to my desk accusing the bank of stealing his money, raising his voice, and acting in a way that might have embarrassed his mother for having raised him that way. I proved to him that it was his overdrafts that led to the fees referencing his transaction history as a guide and sent him on his way. He had a very different experience from a woman who came in with a very humble and apologetic attitude. I waived half of her fees.

CSRs responded that only about 1 in 10 callers are courteous. Just being nice can get you a long way.  Nearly 60% of responses said that is the best way to get what you want. The runner-up, threating to switch to another bank, came up second with 46% of responses. In third, ask for a manager. That gets you what you want about 45% of the time.

On the flip side, calling at the end of the day, threatening to keep the rep on the call a long time, or calling first thing in the morning are the least effective options to get what you need.

Reps may not be able to waive that fee

The survey found that CSRs often can’t resolve some common complaints. For example, under the “rarely or never” category you can’t count on a call getting an annual fee waived, changing an interest rate, lowering a minimum payment, or reversing a past payment. While these can happen from time to time, don’t get too mad at your customer service representative if they can’t help here.

Other challenging requests including waiving late fees and payment due date extensions, but those can happen more often than the almost never items above.

Pro tip: If you do want help with something from the rarely or never list, you may get the best response explaining that you are considering canceling a card. This may lead to transferring your call to the retention department, a higher powered customer service team that may be able to help with some of the rare successes like waiving an annual fee or lowering an interest rate.

Always be honest, they know

The single biggest complaint from CSRs is accusing credit card customer service of lying. If you try to make something up or blame the CSR of lying, you won’t get very far. The customer service representative likely has no personal benefit from lying to you, and accusing them of doing so puts a big wedge between you and your goal.

Computer records of your transactions are likely to be very accurate. At any major credit card company, you can rest easy that the credit card customer service agent is not lying. If there is any dispute, it is probably because of a merchant, not the card issuer. In that case, the credit card company is your biggest ally in resolving the dispute!

Follow the golden rule

Treating other people how you want to be treated works best when you call up the credit card customer service number for help. Don’t be rude. Don’t be pushy. Don’t threaten. Just be kind, understanding, and work with your credit card company for the best results. In the worst case, ask for a supervisor.

Follow the golden rule for the best success when calling credit card customer service.

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Personal Finance Expert
Eric Rosenberg is a personal finance expert. He received an MBA in Finance from the University of Denver in 2010. Since graduating he has been blogging about financial tips and tricks to help people understand money better. He is a debt master, insurance expert and currently writes for most of the top financial publications on the planet.

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