Customer Experience

3 ways American Express is creating a customer-centric culture

Building a customer-insights program that allows companies to listen and then act on customer feedback is essential, but isn’t easy. To be truly customer-centric you need to empower people at all levels of your organization to listen to the customer and act on insights.

Find out how American Express built a world-class customer culture by using a broad spectrum of approaches from empowering employees to capturing and acting on customer insights.

Here are the 3 things Amex is doing to bring a customer-centric culture to life

Watch the full Bring the voice of the customer to life webinar with Fernando F. Vejar, Director of Customer Listening at American Express.

1. Celebrate great customer service

American Express recognizes that it has some outstanding customer service employees. These employees are the ones who consistently drive great customer service or go above and beyond to help customers and deliver exceptional service. And what better way to celebrate outstanding customer service than with a (literal) award?

Customer service reps at Amex can be nominated by their colleagues or team leaders using an objective set of criteria. The successful nominees are then flown to an awards ceremony in New York. There they meet with Amex executives and are celebrated for their contribution to the company.

The winners are given a trophy, a check, and the pride that their work is being used as best-practice training for their colleagues. “These awards recognize outstanding service and consistent excellence,” says Fernando F. Vejar, Director of Customer Listening at American Express. “This is not only when working with our customers, but also when they’ve contributed to creating better processes that improve the customer experience.”

2. Make listening a group activity

American Express believes that one of the best ways to learn from poor customer experiences or build on excellence is to listen to real-life customer interactions. “We organize sessions with different colleagues across all levels of the company,” says Fernando. “We then listen to random calls from customers and look at what worked and what didn’t.”

The audience has the opportunity to discuss how the conversation went between the customer and customer service representatives. As part of the exercise, they’ll also survey the participants and rate the calls across different metrics. This might be how personable the rep was or how easy it was for the customer to solve their request. By working together Amex gets everyone’s input into the process, and it helps reps to see a side of the interaction they may not have focused on before.

3. Find innovative solutions (with a London-style phone booth)

Similarly to the group listening, Amex also set up a customer-listening phone booth. Named the ‘Amex Customer Listening Phone Booth,’ employees can listen to different calls from real life customers. A literal phone booth, Amex colleagues can pop in to be connected to a random customer service call, which they can listen into silently.

And at the end of the call, the listener can leave a message for the customer care representative or give them kudos for their efforts. “This is a really cool idea,” says Vejar. “It’s a device with a very grassroots mindset that no one asked us to do, but works incredibly well. We were really powered by the idea of how we can bring customer interactions to areas of the organization that don't hear from customers very often.”

Fernando says the idea has been so successful that American Express now has phone booths in many other countries across the globe, including the USA, the UK, Mexico, and India.
"Not only to find answers, but to translate those answers into clear action plans,” he says.

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