Behind the Scenes helpline interview
Behind the scenes interview with Ashik Kurien
1. What inspired you to get into customer service?
I have been in client-facing roles for the last decade and always felt like it is a natural fit for me, as I love talking to people.
2. What are some of the things that Helpline can assist members with?
We can help members with their account information and balance inquiries, as the value of an investment return fund keeps fluctuating and most of the members do not know how it is performing. We can help members retrieve their online accounts if they have forgotten the login details and answer queries regarding investment options. Helpline can change their contribution percentages and provide them with information regarding their employer's contribution. We can also help members understand the difference between a standard KiwiSaver and a superannuation fund, which sometimes people think, is the same thing.
3. What is the most commonly asked question that you have come across as a helpline consultant?
Sometimes members put us in a tough spot when they try to gain financial advice, which we are neither technically trained nor legally allowed to give out. However, we can generally guide them and can try to simplify the technical data available on the website so that they can make some sense of it. There’s also some great resources available on the website that can help (www.teachersretire.org.nz/financial-advice).
4. Why should someone call Helpline?
If you want to keep up to date with how your superannuation is performing, if you are concerned about market performance and want to view your investment or if you are looking to make a withdrawal or if you would like to learn more about superannuation.
5. On average, how long does it take callers to reach a helpline team member?
On average, you can reach a helpline consultant in under a minute. Members also have a call-back request option, which means that if you have been waiting for a long time, then a consultant will be able to return your call provided that you have entered your member number.
6. How long have you been on the Mercer helpline?
I have just completed 15 months at Mercer.
7. What do you look forward to in retirement?
I still have a long way to go before I retire but I look forward to staying mentally, physically, and financially healthy in my post-retirement life.
8. When can a member call you?
You can call us anytime between 9am-7pm Monday to Friday, excluding national public holidays.
9. What are some of the challenges that you face as a helpline consultant?
Data plays a crucial role in our job; we live in a world where numbers and regulations are constantly changing. We cannot give outdated information to members therefore; we need to regularly update ourselves with any changes to the rules. I encourage all members to call us with any Scheme question they may have and if we don’t know, we will find out and get back to you.
10. What is your favourite part about working in Helpline?
I love the fact that I get instant feedback, when I help a member and they are genuinely satisfied, I can sense a change of tone. When we end a call on a happy note, the next member gets a cheerful consultant to talk to; it works like the domino effect.
I also love it when I occasionally surprise people regarding their account balances, as some members even forget that they had signed up for the fund 10, 15 years ago. They do not realise that all these years, money was still going into their fund, was getting invested, and reaping returns. Although the markets have been down recently and our conversations tend to be more about why this is happening.
11. When a member calls, do they need any specific information easily accessible for verification purposes?
When we first pick up the call we go through some standard security checks which may include name, date of birth, and member number and a few other details about you or your account. Having the member number makes things much smoother, our response faster, and member’s time on the phone shorter. So having your member number accessible is helpful. You can generally find it in our correspondence to you or on the website.
12. What do you like to do outside of work?
I love traveling and playing sports. I also like to build models at home, just last year I built a 9000-piece Star wars Lego model. It took me 24 days to complete and I later gifted it to my wife on Christmas.
This information has been prepared by Mercer (N.Z.) Limited for general information only. The information does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs.
15 November 2022