This is part two of a four part interview with Doria Camaraza, the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Fort Lauderdale Service Center for American Express.
This part of the interview includes information on how American Express decides to hire new employees versus promote them from within, more information on the compensation and motivation methods the company is using, how they use Net Promoter, information on the company's "Relationship Care" program, and more.
To read this part of the interview, click "read more" below. If you want to read part one of the interview, click here.
Question: How do you approach hiring new people versus promoting from within? Are the customer care professionals who work with Centurion card members hired for that position or do they need a certain amount of years' experience before they can move up to a role like that?
Answer: For a position as a Centurion CCP, we tend to do more hiring from within. I can't think of a situation where I have hired an external person for Centurion in the last couple of years. Professionals typically progress and work their way through the organization to build experience. For the remainder of our servicing roles, we also hire externally. There is a lot of movement within the center with customer care professionals from one area moving to another to develop skills across a variety of disciplines.
Question: Tell me a little bit about the compensation method and those new things you said recently put in place and seem to be working?
Answer: Four years ago we stepped back and realized the behaviors we were incenting were not based on the voice of the customer. We recognized that great service doesn't come down to what we think about our performance internally. It's all about what the customer thinks after every interaction. We instituted new measuring actions of our customer interaction and after each interaction we will ask the customer how we performed. Do they feel we have done a great job? Would they recommend us to a friend? This information is important because we adjust each customer care professionals' incentive plan based on the customer's feedback. So it was a real cultural shift for us. We retired traditional call center metrics to focus on the voice of the customer - what we call "Recommend to a Friend" has become a primary metric for our customer care professional performance so is tied to their incentive pay now.
Question: How does Net Promoter work?
Answer: For the customer care incentive plan, we ask our customers if they would recommend us to a friend. And that's the score that we use with the customer care professional incentive plan. Since we introduced our new Relationship Care ethos, we know that our "Recommend to a Friend" score has increased by more than 10% as a result of infusing Relationship Care into the equation. I cannot share the absolute score, but we've seen a really nice lift in customer results as a result of that this metric.
Question: When you ask a "recommend to a friend" question, do you ask on a zero to ten scale or on a yes or no scale?
Answer: Zero to ten scale.
Question: Tell me more about Relationship Care.
Answer: Relationship Care is what we call our servicing ethos and very simply put, it is really about making sure we take advantage of whatever our interaction is with that customer to create incremental value to them during the time American Express is on the phone with them. CCPs don't just respond to a customer's question or solve their problem, they go the extra step of offering the customer tailored information about how they can get more out of their card, like taking advantage of a benefit they're not utilizing. As an example, you might want to contact us with a change of address because you're moving and our CCPs take that opportunity to remind you of a benefit through their program so that the customer can maximize the value of their card.. With one of our co-brands, that would be specific to a home improvement service or benefit like Home Depot. It's taking that interaction and thinking how we can add incremental value by reminding the customer of a benefit or bringing a new benefit or service during that discussion.
During any given interaction, we have access to of data about that customer and we can use that data and remind them of appropriate benefits. When they are traveling, we remind them about club access in the airport or baggage insurance that the cardmember may have forgotten about as benefit readily available through their card. It gives us a deeper connection and engages the customers more. Over time, the customer wants to stay with us and has a continued loyalty with our brand. It's a powerful way of servicing for us, and American Express continues to provide extraordinary care and service for our customers which hasn't wavered for 160 years. Our aspiration is to become the world's most respected service brand. And over extenuating circumstances, over the course of time with many customers, we have been a go-to company. We have reached out and helped them out over difficult situations. Our servicing ethos has always been there; we're just continuing to enhance it.
Question: How do you train for Relationship Care? How do you train someone that when a customer says I am moving and need to change my address to start suggesting home improvement and all that?
Answer: It all starts in customer care professional classroom training. It's why we "hire for the will and train them for the skill." Let's me give you an example of how this plays out. As the customer care professional looks at the screen during the call, there will be specific messaging. The messaging might say this particular customer travels extensively. So the customer care professional would take the opportunity to remind them of a free airline club access their card entitles them to. Or, if the customer is moving, the CCP could mention the opportunity to redeem Membership Rewards points with Home Depot or Lowes. So technology is providing relevant information so the customer care professional can focus on the conversation with the customer and on providing outstanding service.
Question: On a similar note, you obviously have a traditional call center where someone calls in and will probably not speak to the same person two calls in a row. How do you manage that when someone calls in and make people feel they are dealing with a small team and make it a personalized experience a little bit?
Answer: This is why the incentive program becomes so important because each and every person in the center is fully aware of Relationship Care and the importance of it in customer interaction. Over and over when a customer contacts us, it is not just a transaction, but an opportunity to deepen our relationship with a customer. Our CCPs interaction with customers is no longer measured by average handling time but on providing a superior customer experience, as measured through customer feedback.
All of us are aligned in providing the same level of consistent service. It doesn't matter who receives your call. If Douglas calls today and he is a Platinum card member, he will have the same consistent customer experience whether Susan answers the phone or Doria answers the phone.
Part three of the interview will include talk about how American Express empowers its representatives and how it encourages them to take ownership over issues and will be published next week.