How important is customer service?

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By Art Lieberman

One thing is certainly true about all those who market credit card processing. They are all selling the very same thing.

Every independent sales organization, sales agent or bank that is in the business of supplying credit card processing to campground owners, are selling Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express.

They will all tell campground owners, “I can save you money on your processing.” The truth is that they all can.

They can because they all rely on the so-called “interchange rates” that the credit card companies give and are raised by sales agents to make a profit, but only enough to beat the rates that businesses are currently receiving.

The method that most credit card providers use, is to ask campground owners to send them a copy of a recent monthly statement so they can compare and beat those rates.

Therefore, based on this information, there is very little difference between processing banks and their agents when it comes to WHAT they are marketing. If the agent is truly competitive, they will save a prospective customer just enough money to make them switch processors.

In the credit card industry, there is a monthly publication, written by, and directed to, companies that market credit card services. It is called “The Green Sheet.”

Several weeks ago, there was an article by a writer doing research on this very subject and the writer found that many businesses actually switch companies based on more than rates. Prospective customers were asking “How is your customer service?”

The standard answer is, of course, “Great, it’s 24/7/365, and these people are highly qualified to help you should a problem arise.” Unfortunately, this answer is more of a marketing statement than it is the truth.

Although the phones are manned constantly, most banks or processors have tens or even hundreds of thousands of customers and when you call them you are likely to hear, “I’m sorry, all our operators are busy now; please hang on for the next customer service representative.”

This is not something a campground owner wants to hear when a customer is waiting for an answer as to why his card is not processing or why his machine isn’t working.

And, from the point of view of a customer service rep that is mostly familiar with “mechanical” problems with equipment, they may have little or no experience dealing with a point-of-sale situation or anything having to do with marketing.

The truth is that sales companies depend on how the bank’s service their customers and that affects the relationship with the sales company. The salespeople get the blame if the BANK’s customer service isn’t good. After all, we specialize in campground processing and our focus is on them.

Realizing this disconnect between their customers and the customer service of their bank, MCPS for Campgrounds, has been telling their campground customers NOT to call the 800 number of our bank’s customer service, but rather to call them instead at their 570-966-5700 number.

Many of them do so, and it is probably one of the reasons why MCPS has a 97% customer retention rate.

If a prospective customer wanted to call the bank’s customer service, they wouldn’t help them anyway. The first thing they will ask for is their “merchant number,” and since they are not yet a customer, they won’t talk to them.

So, as of this past month, MCPS has established its own customer service line, just for their customers or even prospective customers. While it is true, they are not 24/7/365, they do seem to get problems solved.

  • As an example: a machine doesn’t work no matter what they try? MCPS will send the campground owner another by Fedex overnight.
  • Is your business seasonal? They will suspend your account with no fees at all.
  • Need new hardware? They will facilitate the transaction.
  • Want to take transactions through your computer or cellphone? They will set you up.

This is unique in the credit card industry. Almost all sales offices rely on the customer service supplied by the processing bank – and it is questionable whether they care about the customer as much as the sales office does.

MCPS’s toll-free customer service number is 855-666-MCPS (6277) and staff is available from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday — and it isn’t just for our customers. It’s also for people who want general information.

Art Lieberman

Art Lieberman

Art Lieberman is the president of MCPS for Campgrounds, a company that provides credit card processing services to more than 1,000 RV parks and campgrounds throughout America. He is also a founding member of the Campground Advocate, a coalition of companies that provide services to the outdoor hospitality industry. He can be reached at rvcreditcards@yahoo.com.

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