Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How credit card companies should handle waived annual fees

Dear credit card companies,

If you have pre-set criteria for determining when an existing customer is eligible for having their annual credit card fees waived, please don't wait for them to call your customer service line before waiving the fee.

Just waive the darned fee straight away!

If you'd like to score PR and goodwill points, it's easy enough -- go ahead and charge the annual fee so it appears on the credit card statement, then tack on a reversal of the charge immediately after, preferably with a transaction description like: "Annual fee waived for valued client."

There are very real benefits to this:

  • You make the client feel special because you recognize their value
  • Your make your company look good, because it seems you Know Your Customers
  • You spare your client the annoyance of wasting 10 minutes getting on the phone, traversing your irritating IVRS call tree, and waiting in queue to speak to a customer service representative
  • You eliminate work for your already overloaded customer service representatives
  • You don't look cheap for trying to "sneak" an annual fee past your customers when you know very well the fee should have been waived in the first place
Sure, you may take a short-term revenue hit from the annual fees that would not have been waived because some percentage of your customers can't be bothered to call, but imagine the positive word-of-mouth and customer loyalty you'd get by doing something that's totally awesome for your clients... instead of leaving me with a bad taste in my mouth after you've made me jump through all your hoops.

And yes, BPI, I'm looking at you.