An Experience With An American Express HERO

Ever since I signed my daughter up for a frequent-flier program, she's been receiving at least one credit card offer from American Express every week. Problem is, she's 2. It's unnerving to say the least to have these kinds of offers coming to your kids, but it's not hard to imagine how it happened. In fact, I know exactly how it happened since I had the same issue with my 4-year-old about a year ago — one company shares a contact list with or sells it to another, and somehow nobody filters for age (if that's even in the database, though one would assume it is). And voilà, mail campaigns are targeting your kids.

We started receiving these emails for about six months, about the time we took a family trip to Chicago. Finally, I got fed up and put in a call to American Express, which, to be fair, is not the real culprit here. However, I called, and after negotiating the IVR system (that seemed determined to give me an unwanted download on my account status, though that's a bit off-topic), I was routed to a representative who listened to my problem and expressed genuine shock at the situation, immediately making me feel like there was someone who understood — someONE, not some nameless, faceless database that was spitting out those credit card offers. It put me at ease to the point where I would have felt comfortable if the representative told me she had to mail some forms that I'd have to fill out and return. Instead, the representative asked me to wait a moment while she sorted this out. Clearly, this was not a typical request, so I figured it would take some time. However, after a few short minutes of waiting, the representative came back to tell me that she had submitted the necessary paperwork and that the mailings should cease within a few weeks. She apologized for the inconvenience in a human — not robotic — tone and sent me on my way.

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The Right Customer Experience Strategy

What is the right customer experience strategy? My new report on customer experience strategy investigates this question. To give it some context, consider customers’ expectations of Costco versus Apple. Costco customers expect barebones service in return for low prices, while Apple customers expect innovative products at relatively high prices. These firms deliver radically different experiences, yet they both delight customers. Should your company be like Costco or like Apple or something else entirely?

The report uses Michael Porter’s three generic company strategies as a starting point to understand core value propositions that should drive the right customer experience strategy.

In researching the report, Adaptive Path’s VP of Creative Services Brandon Schauer was invaluable in pushing my thinking toward using Michael Porter’s generic strategies as a starting point. He had a couple of powerful insights that I think are worth mentioning:

  1. “For customer experience leaders, the first big hurdle is to discern the organization’s business strategy.” I’ve talked with many firms in the process of changing their company strategy, which creates a moving target that is both a challenge and an opportunity for customer experience leaders.
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How Can Enterprise Feedback Management Help Customer Experience Professionals?

As part of my research on voice of the customer (VoC) programs, I run into a lot of vendors in the enterprise feedback management (EFM) space. In general, these vendors provide the technology to enable feedback collection, analysis, reporting, and action management. Many also provide professional services to help clients build their VoC programs and drive results.

The EFM space is an essential piece of the customer experience puzzle, but it’s still loosely defined. I’m not even sure that the term EFM accurately describes many of the vendors in the space — with all due respect to the term’s creator, Carl Henning.  

My colleague Roxana Strohmenger and I are kicking off some new research to better understand this market — and help you make the most of your vendor relationships.

Roxana will tackle the research from a market research perspective, which means more focus on controlling data quality, increasing efficiency through consolidation, and synthesizing data from multiple sources.

I’ll tackle the research from a customer experience perspective. While the issues mentioned above are still important in this context, I’ll focus on the customer experience applications of the activities. For example, here are two areas where I already see customer experience pros getting significant value from EFM:

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