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Capital One customer service gets high marks

by Peter Andrew

Capital One announced earlier this month that its call centers for both consumer credit cards and small business credit cards had been recognized by J.D. Power and Associates "for outstanding customer service." Three cheers for Capital One, and let's hope that other credit card companies up their games when it comes to fielding calls.

Credit card call centers that perform

Although the announcement was made in a press release, dated Feb. 7, the J.D. Power certification sounds to be a lot more than the usual marketing fluff. The Call Center Certification Program has been running since 2004, and to receive its endorsement you have to operate within the top 20 percent of possible customer satisfaction scores across a range of five criteria:

    • Agents' courtesy, knowledge and concern for customer

    • Information provided

    • Time taken to resolve an issue

    • Time taken to reach an agent

    • Center's opening hours

    This is the first time that Capital One's consumer card call centers have been certificated, but it's the second year running that the ones serving those with small business credit cards have achieved this accolade. A justifiably proud Heather Cox, executive vice president of the company's card operations, provided some context in a statement:

    Capital One made a commitment several years ago to transform our customer experience, and these certifications are milestones that demonstrate our progress even as we continue to raise our game. Our customer satisfaction scores have been consistently rising across the board at Capital One, and our associates are working tirelessly to deliver exceptional service to our customers.

    An evolving service

    Call centers can be incredibly powerful tools for credit card companies. Not only are they often the first opportunity to resolve a complaint that could ultimately lead to a customer cutting up his or her card and defecting to a competitor, but they're also great for marketing.

    Most big call centers (they're often called "contact centers" because many also field emails and faxes, and host web chat services) today use customer relationship management (CRM) applications that allow a company to use its knowledge of you to make you a more loyal or profitable customer. A company could, if it wanted, even make sure that, using caller ID, calls from its most valuable customers are routed to the front of the queue, and answered most quickly. More routinely, a script is likely automatically to "pop" on an agent's computer monitor once your issue has been resolved, and that will prompt the agent to "up-sell" you something, perhaps try to get you to upgrade to a better card with a higher annual fee.

    So it's no surprise that credit card issuers invest in their call centers. What's odd is that it's a newsworthy event when one of them manages its well.

    Published 02/15/12 (Modified 01/13/14)

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