John DiJulius | Customer Experience Blog

Amex improves Experience; Customer Experience 2020
  Amex improves cardholder’s experience and shareholder value – Jim Bush, EVP of World Service ofAmerican Express, revolutionized the call center experience by decreasing the stereotypical emphasis on monitoring call times and call reps scripts and increasing relationship building skills and techniques. He was recently interviewed by CNNMoney, “We moved away from being a cost of doing business to being an investment in building relationships,” Bush says. “We’ve been able to show that increased satisfaction drives increased engagement with American Express products, and that drives shareholder value. Great service is great business. We track it all the way to shareholder value. For a promoter who is positive on American Express, we see a 10% to 15% increase in spending and four to five times increased retention, both of which drive shareholder value. In fact our operating expenses associated with service have gone down because we’re more streamlined, and we limit friction points and errors. The training has changed. In the past, 75% of it was on how, technically, you complete the transaction. Now it’s on how you create the relationship and build it through humanity, conversation, and engagement.” Read the entire article.  

What does customer service look like in 2020? I recently read a very interesting study on what the business megatrends will be for the decade ahead, written by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Here is a summary of what the report showed: 

Service will be the primary differentiator – Some things never change. For example, no matter what technological innovations come and go, customers will always value a personal touch. A significant emphasis will have to be placed on Customer Service by a rising number of firms, especially B2B, as a competitive differentiator. Increased global competition is seen as the number-one driver of customer service for the decade ahead overall. Service will clearly be the key means of standing out from the crowd. More than half of the businesses surveyed (55%) expect to compete on this basis in 2020, well ahead of quality (33%), while price is seen as relatively insignificant (9%). “Ultimately, service is the only differentiator,” argues Jo Causon, CEO of the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), an independent, professional membership body for customer service. “To avoid being caught in a race to the bottom in terms of price, service will be used to stand out.” 

The Need for Speed – For an online-only retailer like Net-a-Porter, this is a crucial part of its offering: order a dress online by 1pm in London or Manhattan, and have it delivered to your door before the end of the day. “We think that speed is very important, and our customers think it’s important too,” says Mark Sebba, the firm’s CEO. Similarly, for customers who do not like the item, Net-a-Porter will collect it again free of charge. “Our customers are busy people and time is the new luxury,” acknowledges Mr. Sebba. “Something that helps them avoid having to wait in a post office is important.” The firm is planning to open a third distribution centre in Hong Kong so that it can deliver more rapidly on new demand from Asian clients. “With that, we’ll be no more than 24 hours from any metropolitan centre in the world,” confirms Mr. Sebba. In short, speed has become a competitive differentiator. 

Firms that will be able to help their customers save time will leverage this to stand out from their rivals. Another example is Accor, the global hotel chain that includes a large range of brands, from Sofitel to All Seasons to Formule 1. It hopes this decade to link its loyalty scheme to its door keys, so that customers can check in online, as they do with their flights, and simply use their loyalty card to access their room, bypassing any wasted time at check-in altogether. “In our economy hotels, we will move more to self check-in and web check-in, so that you can move into your room quickly,” confirms Jean-Luc Chrétien, Accor’s Executive Vice President for sales, distribution and loyalty. The same will apply at more upscale hotels, so that guests can check in online or via their mobile devices and go directly to their rooms, but will also include a greater range of options. 

Speed versus Quality – This has implications for B2B service providers and is reflected in the survey results. While 83% of B2C respondents agree their customers now expect a faster service than they did five years ago, the B2B respondents were not far behind, with 77% agreeing. The key challenge for B2B is the inherent tension between providing a faster service and maintaining quality levels. Companies will have to figure out where in their business processes they are able to speed up service delivery and where they will need to push back on the “need for speed” and manage client expectations. Read the entire report Service 2020 Megatrends for the decade ahead.





John R. DiJulius III best-selling author, consultant, and keynote speaker, is the President of The DiJulius Group, the leading customer experience consulting firm in the nation. He blogs on customer experience trends and best practices. Learn more about The DiJulius Group or The Secret Service Summit, America’s #1 Customer Service Conference.

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