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Q&A with Russell Nickson on Customer Experience Management
Q&A with Russell Nickson on Customer Experience Management
Q&A with Russell Nickson on Customer Experience Management
Q&A with Russell Nickson on Customer Experience Management
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Q&A with Russell Nickson on Customer Experience Management

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It's well known that American Express' customer service goes the extra mile. But how do they do it? …

It's well known that American Express' customer service goes the extra mile. But how do they do it?

Here, Russell Nickson, World Services Senior Vice President JAPA explains how they do it.

Russell is speaking at the Customer Experience Management 2011. For more information about the event, please visit www.CustomerExperienceEvent.com,au or call +61 2 9229 1000. Or you can email enquire@iqpc.com.au.

Published in: Business, Education
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  • I totally agree with the above comment. I recently had a very bad experience with American Express in Singapore. I was non active user of the card and Amex send me a correspondence to make minimum transactions on my card for 4 consecutive months to enjoy a free swiss watch. Ofcourse it was too good to be true and I didn't reply. After a month Amex contacted me again and ask me to sign up and I relented. After 4 months, an AMEX Staff call me to say that they are unable to give the watch they promised because it was redeem two weeks after I join the promotion. Why do Amex wait until 4 months to tell me? They offered me an alternative watch which from my perspective inferior. If a shop was having a redemption promotion, if the redemption is no longer available they will put up a sign outside the shop - Fully Redeemed! But not Amex. I personally wrote Nick and Amex and guess what ...I am still waiting.
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  • • This is utter non-sense when Mr Nickson is talking of Going an extra mile on customer service. He should understand that a RELATIONSHIP is never built on cheating, unfulfilled commitment, lie and calousness to customers. And these are the very essence of experience I have since I opted for a Gold Card from American Express since Oct’10. Even feedback to Mr. Nickson thru the banks interaction feedback system (which promptly been asked after a customer calls the contact centre) has gone unheard. So Mr Nickson, better look at your own-house and put them into order before addressing seminars to outside world on a topic your bank is NOT at all worth of! Good luck in your efforts.
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  • 1. How American Express’ Customer Experience Goes The Extra Mile Russell Nickson, World Service SVP JAPA, American ExpressFrom a customer’s perspective, how does American Express’ CEM differentiateyou from your competitors?American Express has been around for 160 years and the reason we have beensuccessful is because of what the brand stands for – service, trust and integrity aroundthe world. Our vision is to become the world’s most respected service brand and weprovide extraordinary customer care through a global organisation at American Expressthat we call World Service. Each year we serve billions of customers around the world,through a variety of servicing channels, including phone, voice response, e-mail, theInternet, selected social media, and text messaging.Our CCPs follow a simple service philosophy: “Relationship CareSM” – to treat everycustomer interaction as a relationship -- not just a transaction, or a cost. Rather thansimply using robotic scripts and focusing on the transaction at hand – our frontlineemployees – we call them Customer Care Professionals (CCPs) - seek to broadlyunderstand the needs of the Cardmember. We want to understand the customer’ssituation and all of their relationships with American Express.With Relationship Care, our Customer Care Professionals don’t just respond to acustomer’s question or solve their problem. They go the extra step of offering thecustomer tailored information about how they could get more out of their card, likeearning additional Membership Rewards points by shopping at specific merchants, ortaking advantage of a Cardmember discount at a new restaurant in theirneighbourhood.Since we’ve integrated Relationship Care into our culture, we have found that acustomer is far more likely to say they would recommend American Express to a friend.We are seeing increased performance and, in turn, profitability, as we continue to investin our front line. In fact, Cardmember attrition is significantly lower among our“promoters” and they rate us highly on recommend to a friend. At the same time, ourCardmember spending is higher among those who are “promoters” and rate us highlyon recommend to a friend. Clearly, a unique service ethos or philosophy, that works.How do you ensure service delivery consistency across all touchpoints?American Express’ aim is to provide superior service around the world – orextraordinary customer care as we call it - at every touchpoint. Whether that be via 1
  • 2. phone, voice response, e-mail, the Internet, selected social media, or text messaging.We measure the effectiveness of the service we have provided in all customerinteractions to develop the best metrics to gauge and improve the customer experience.Internally, Voice of Customer Measurement is an important process to help drive ourbusiness goals. We measure our performance against what our customers say about us– not what we thought constituted a great service experience.By implementing a Relationship Care philosophy we moved from the robotic scripts andlet our customers decide how much time they wanted to spend on the phone with us.We shifted away from ‘internal quality monitoring’ and launched Recommend to aFriend. RTF is a new metric based on Net Promoter scores, where we tie a customer’ssatisfaction with a specific call back to the actual representative that took that call. OurCustomer Care Professionals are no longer rated on what they say or how fast theycomplete the transaction. Now, it’s about what the customer says.Our CCPs earn variable compensation based on their ability to drive customersatisfaction on every call – we ensure that our top performing Customer CareProfessionals have additional opportunities to increase their total compensation. Ourdirect customer feedback also drives coaching on how to continually improve thecustomer experience. We believe there is no better way to improve the customerexperience than by acting on each and every point of customer feedback.There’s enormous pressure on CEM departments to succeed – this normallyrequires funding, so how do you prove an internal case for CEM to secure funds?Service is our biggest competitive advantage; it is core to our brand and who we are asa company. Our CEO, Ken Chenault views ‘Delivering Superior Service’ as a criticalpart of our company’s mantra – namely that we focus on service and continue to delivermore value and deepen relationships with our customers. Winning our fourthconsecutive JD Power award in 2010 for highest customer satisfaction, as well assimilar awards around the world, is one sign of our progress. And in 2011, we will stayfocused on the customer experience and continue to make investments in our servicingnetwork and capabilities that will better enable us to serve customers how, where andwhen they want.Our service enhancements also involve investments in technology. These investmentshave allowed us to give our Customer Care Professionals some of the tools they needto be more efficient and effective. Our aim is to be able to deliver an integrated andconsistent service experience for our customers across all channels and processes –something they expect us to be able to do.As an example, we redesigned some of the online tools our Customer Care 2
  • 3. Professionals use to enable Relationship Care. Now they can access a web-basedinformation portal that shows the relevant benefits and services that they can speak tothe Cardmember about. Our Customer Care Professionals have access to a range ofrelevant benefits, features, and special offers allowing them to quickly and easilyprovide relevant suggestions to customers.Relationship Care also has had a positive impact on the bottom line for ourshareholders. Since we’ve integrated Relationship Care into our culture, we have foundthat Cardmember attrition is significantly lower among our “promoters” and they rate ushighly on recommend to a friend. At the same time, our Cardmember spending ishigher among those who are “promoters” and rate us highly on recommend to a friend.In fact, our Recommend To a Friend scores for JAPA are around 1600 basis points (forthe period January to December 2010) because of Relationship CareWe’re driving an experience that makes the customer feel better about AmericanExpress, which is brand building, and ultimately creating economic value by increasingcustomer loyalty and engagement which increases shareholder value.What investments have you made in training your customer service employees?Providing extraordinary customer care is a priority at American Express. We focus onhiring, training, and retaining customer care professionals who can truly deliver on ourvision of becoming the world’s most respected service brand.As part of our Relationship CareSM ethos, we have created a comprehensive trainingprogram designed not only to ensure we’re meeting the needs of our customers, butalso to develop the next generation of leaders. The program builds on our establishedand proven customer service training by focusing on building relationships or emotionalconnections with cardmembers.We have a course titled “Delivering Extraordinary Service” which is focused on creatingdifferentiating experiences to surpass our customers’ needs. In this course, we look atthe key components of delivering an extraordinary experience as defined by ourcustomers.“Relationship Care SM” is the natural successor to “Delivering Extraordinary Service” andfocuses on tangible ways in which Customer Care Professionals can build relationshipswith Cardmembers rather than focusing on the transaction at hand – therefore seekingto broadly understand the needs of every Cardmember.All members of our contact centres have completed both courses and all New Hiredelegates experience both trainings within their first week within the Organisation.Further to the two courses, our Customer Care Professionals are then further developedthrough additional learning electives and a continued focus on Coaching to Relationship 3
  • 4. Care, delivered by our experienced Team Leaders within the operational environment.Russell Nickson is the World Service SVP JAPA at American Express. He’ll bepresenting at the Customer Experience Management 2011 as part of a paneldiscussion. For more information about the event, please visitwww.CustomerExperienceEvent.com.au or call +61 2 9229 1000. Or you can emailenquire@iqpc.com.auDon’t forget you can also follow us on Twitter via @IQPC_Australia 4

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