In a time when consumers have a heightened awareness of the entire credit card industry, where there is a drop in corporate spending and where legislative regulatory changes have all made profound differences in the way credit cards are viewed, American Express CEO Kenneth Chenault looks to improve customer experiences. Using the Ritz Carlton and FedEx as models of customer service, changes in American Express service strives to create deeper emotional connections with their customers.
In their three pillar strategy, entitled Relationship Care, employees from industries with hospitality and sales backgrounds as well as the use of new technology, helps customer service employees solve problems while building relationships with customers rather than the norm of how many rings until the phone gets answered or how long a customer service representative spends on the line.
The first stage of Relationship Care concentrates on existing employees and increasing their training by 20%. Classroom instruction, live training, coaches and coaching while directly responding to customers help representatives capture the mood of the customer and be better equipped to listen and know how to respond. By helping employees understand spending behaviors and customer reasons for calling, an immediate emotional and loyalty connection can be made when a customer calls to perhaps report a change of address. If the customer is a high value consumer, a customer care professional may send out a Home Depot gift card.
During the second stage of Relationship Care, hiring new representatives takes on a very centered focus. A customer service applicant might be asked, "If you worked at American Express, how would you give a hug to a card member over the phone?" The company has been hiring representatives from the hospitality and sales industries finding their experience with customers to be a vital asset when dealing with customers who need empathy and the kind of understanding not taught in any training manuals.
Finally, the technology of American Express that can tap into the a database of customer information showing their past buying activity can prompt a representative to aim future promotions, and services pertaining to a specific card member rather than a general pitch for new products. The website is also easy to navigate, user friendly, and provides information pertinent to all card members. The company has even set up a website to help consumers keep track of all activity concerning legislative action for all credit card holders.
American Express reports their customer satisfaction statistics are on the rise, and customer satisfaction rates have climbed dramatically.