Trying to resolve a business problem by the telephone has become a daunting task for most of us. Long gone are the days when your telephone call would be immediately answered by a real person. Instead, we are now confronted by a series of questions, requiring us to press the right buttons, in order to be connected with the service agent most capable of handling our problem. Reaching the right person, communicating the problem and resolving the issue can be even more difficult for seniors.
Seniors often struggle not only with the new technology but also with problems that aging may cause such as hearing loss, lack of concentration and sometimes even dementia. Seniors may have greater success in resolving an issue over the telephone if they follow a few tips.
1. Know the problem. Sit down beforehand and write out the problem, being as specific as possible. Understand what the purpose of the telephone call is and what you hope to accomplish.
2. Call early in the morning or other times when you feel most alert.
3. Make sure that you have all of your sensory enhancement devices, i.e., hearing aids, enhanced telephone headsets, reading glasses, available.
4. Eliminate all background noises that may cause a distraction prior to making the call.
Making the Call
1. Keep a notebook and write down the date and time that you are making the phone call.
2. Listen closely to the instructions and write down each of the prompts that you believe apply to your situation. In the event that you will have to call again, knowing the required prompts beforehand can help you more easily reach the desired party.
3. When you reach the desired party, take note of the individual’s name and/or identification number and write it in your notebook. Ask that in the event that you are cut off, if there is a direct way to call the agent back without having to go through all of the prompts again.
4. State the problem as you have written it. Being as precise as possible can help avoid confusion. If the agent you reached is not the correct party, write down the name of the party or area that you need to reach and try to get a direct number. If you cannot get a direct number, be sure that you know what prompt you need to use in the event you need to again call back.
Take the time to write down the results of your call and review it with the service agent before ending the call. Make sure you understand what actions will occur (such as the removal of an expense from a bill) and when you will see evidence that the correction has been made.
By planning your call and making sure that you are free of distractions when making it, you should be well prepared to effectively communicate and resolve any outstanding issue. By maintaining a written record of the call, with whom you spoke and what actions are to take place, you will be well prepared should any follow-up call be required.
Gary Lewis, CFP®, CASL®, has worked in various areas of
financial services since receiving his MBA from Northwestern University
in 1988. He specializes in providing services to the mature market and helping seniors age-in-place. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.