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The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 08, 2008 • Issue 08:09:01


Revamp that problem mindset

ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) are problem solvers. It's the nature of the job as middlemen (and women) between processors and merchants. But it may be getting you down - the aggravating, unrelenting stream of problems that are dumped on your desk and become your responsibility to solve. You may have reached, or are close to reaching, the point where you can't take anymore.

Bad things happen in life; it's a truism. It's even a scientific principle called entropy - that things move from order to disorder, from stability to chaos. Sometimes problems are big, life-changing ones, like a divorce or a death in the family.

Or issues can be business-related - your ISO cuts back on customer service and you are flooded with complaints; a new POS system malfunctions, repeatedly; or a long-time business partner goes belly up, leaving you stranded.

But it's not that bad things happen. Little annoyances and setbacks occur just about every day of our working lives. It's how you deal with negative developments that makes all the difference. Putting out fires If you get up in the morning dreading the obstacles you will face that day, chances are you need to find a new line of work. Or better yet, change your mindset and keep your job.

A main part of sales agents' jobs is solving problems - merchants' problems: hardware problems, software problems, problems with their statements. Problems. Problems. Problems. All day long.

But try looking at it differently. You're not trying to fix problems, you're providing customer service instead. Once you're in that frame of mind, the negative aspects of problems lessen. You're helping to alleviate others' troubles. You're performing a service that makes merchants' business lives easier.

But that is not all you're doing. By resolving merchant issues, by resolving difficulties, you're solidifying your roll as those merchants' go-to guys and gals. Providing excellent customer service is, therefore, nothing less than job security.

The happenstance factor

But tackling thorny issues has other positive attributes as well. Often you hear of scientists searching for answers to specific problems, only to accidentally discover solutions to other things. Louis Pasteur, for instance, stumbled upon the principle of vaccination by trying to induce cholera in chickens with the wrong bacteria.

Chance discoveries happen to MLSs, too. A few scenarios:

  • A merchant is upset at the amount of chargebacks and gives you an earful in a phone conversation. During the call, the merchant complains about his or her inefficient payroll system. You mention that you offer prepaid payroll cards, the savings from which can offset that merchant's chargeback costs.

  • Unhappy with rising interchange, one of your merchants goes elsewhere for cheaper rates. To make up for that lost merchant, you take a flyer on a cold call; it just so happens that business is unhappy with its processor, too, and chooses you as its new ISO.

    These examples illustrate another truism: Every problem has a solution. But it's more complicated than that. Every problem is an opportunity to delve into a dilemma and discover something new. But that discovery might not be directly related to the problem that initiated the enquiry.

    Problem exposing

    The fact of the matter is problems need exposing. Honest ISOs and MLSs don't know problems exist until they are brought to light. Weaknesses in hardware applications or business processes cannot be fixed if they're not revealed.

    So the uncovering of problems is necessary to improving business processes, even though they may be uncomfortable to deal with.

    When the largest data breach in U.S. history happened at TJX Companies Inc., what would company executives have given to be able to go back in time and fix the flaws in their data security before the breach occurred?

    Solving that kind of problem would have been nothing compared to what they experienced in the wake of the breach.

    But the TJX breach revealed security vulnerabilities that were subsequently addressed. So a measure of good came out of it.

    As the old saying goes, If you don't learn from your mistakes, you are doomed to repeat them. So, each and every roadblock that presents itself is an opportunity to address a weakness, shore up a vulnerability or find a way to do something better.

    Problems can be dreaded or embraced. ISOs and MLSs who deal with problems with a positive mindset are stronger for it. end of article

    The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

    Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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