Russ Metcalf

Vice President of Customer Service NetSpend Corporation Austin, Texas

Metcalf has dropped status-quo policy in favor of a customer-service function focused on education, advocacy, and common sense

QuoteWhen I joined NetSpend, it was an opportunity for me to come in and take on a company that, in the space of 10 years, had grown from being the “call center in the basement” to a group that had more than 1,500 agents during different times of the year. I had over 25 years of call-center management experience, and I saw that I would be able to help NetSpend understand the best practices I’d learned and raise the bar on customer-service expectations.

We’re very structured because of the guidelines that regulate our industry, but inside of that, we need to ask, what are the things we do that make the process consistent? I need to be sure that I’m asking the same questions every time, that we have the same guidelines for hiring, and that we have the same expectations.

Customer service needs to be an information port for the product. Whether it’s a computer or a software package or the features you put on a debit card, the customer-service people need to be able to take the information that they gather from the customers and funnel it back into the marketing group and say what is or isn’t working. If the product group, in any company, is not tied closely to the feedback loop, then the company is going to keep sending stuff out that may or may not work.

We operate under banking and VISA/MC rules that require us to communicate in a clear and factual manner. And because it’s regulated, the customers don’t always understand, which creates frustration. One of my least favorite customer-service phrases is “It’s policy.” So instead, we need to explain to customers why, for example, these regulations are beneficial.

The first thing you see in our mission statement is to educate and advocate. Our goal is to continue to educate the underserved to make their lives better. This means that we ensure the new features coming out are usable and easy to understand, and my team plays this role.

Our original statement of our market was to say that we cater to the underbanked. Now, we speak of our market in terms of serving people who want a choice. Some people don’t want to deal with banks, and want more control over their financial lifestyle. From that standpoint, that is what changes our approach to the market.  Quote