As a paraplanning administrator who regularly undertakes client plan reviews, a huge part of my role is contacting providers to obtain the information omitted from the information packs requested.
During the pandemic, the wait times to speak to someone have dramatically increased due to staff absences, furlough, and the difficulties of working from home and therefore, I am regularly waiting over an hour to get through to someone. As this can take up such a large part of my day, it is key that I take action to use my time effectively and minimise wait times. I have come up with five key things that I always keep in mind when requesting information, and I hope you find them useful.
Call the correct number
I have wasted so much time calling the first number I have found on the provider website. As providers manage so many pension/investment types, it is important to call the specific department to avoid having to start the process again.
- Always check any policy documents that the provider has previously sent
- Some provider sites, such as Aviva, allow you to search the policy number and get the correct department
- Check with colleagues to see whether anyone has a specific contact in the company
- Once you do get through, note the correct number for future reference
Do not be afraid to escalate matters
Always be kind to the person you speak to as they are more likely to want to help you. However, if you are getting nowhere and having to chase more than is reasonable, take it further.
- Ask to have the query escalated – often, I find this resolves it pretty quickly
- Ask to speak to someone senior as they often have ways of getting things done a lot quicker than a call handler
Try other methods
Sometimes calling the provider is unavoidable, however the information can often be found on the providers’ site via the Key Features or FAQs.
Time your call
I find that calling after 3pm or anytime on a Friday are the best times to call. I always try to avoid Mondays and between 9am and 1pm.
Prepare for a long one!
Often, even when you have tried all of the above, a long wait just cannot be avoided. So, make sure you have got a drink (but not too much!), have all of your details ready and set yourself up with an easy task while you wait to maximise efficiency.
This list is not extensive as generally, a wait is unavoidable, but it helps to save a little time so we can focus our time helping clients and doing what we do best.