How American Express Stole My Heart After Someone Stole My Credit Card
Last year, I had the best customer service experience of my life — even though it had started with one of the worst: discovering that my American Express card number had been stolen.
When I called American Express to report the fraudulent charges after seeing them on my statement, they told me there was a new charge, also clearly fraudulent, but it was still pending. Because it was pending, they couldn’t yet reverse it and therefore I would need to call back in a few days to dispute the additional charge. Being told by a customer service rep that you need to call again is awful: You still haven’t resolved this anxiety-ridden problem, and to pour salt in the wound, now you need to go through the trouble of making a second call to customer service. I dreaded having to explain to a new person everything that had already transpired during my first call.
But I need not have feared, because American Express uses a customer relationship management (CRM) system. With CRMs, a company’s employees can document the details of every interaction that they have with a customer, be it a phone conversation or email correspondence, and make the knowledge of those interactions available to all other staff members. Some of you may have read Gene Carr’s book, Breaking the Fifth Wall, or attended one of our educational seminars, and seen that we like to draw the analogy of customer relationship management solutions being much like the pensieve in the Harry Potter series: a collective repository for many people’s memories.
With CRM, something as mundane as a phone call becomes incredibly powerful, because it means there’s institutional memory — suddenly one staff member’s memories are accessible to every employee — and the result is that there’s no longer a need for the customer to recap previous conversations (and get annoyed in the process).
So when I did call AmEx back a few days later, prepared to launch into a tirade to bring this new rep up to speed and express my frustration in no uncertain terms, my rage was immediately diffused. Right off the bat, my new rep said, “I see you called a few days ago to report that your card number was stolen, and that you need to reverse this latest fraudulent charge.”
She already knew! It felt like the same magic of the pensieve that enabled Harry to look into Dumbledore’s memory and see Voldemort as a young Tom Riddle. I quickly realized that American Express customer service uses a CRM to track all interactions with card members. All of the history of my previous call was there, I didn’t have to explain it all over again, and the terrible experience of having my card number stolen was now eclipsed by my delight over having such an easy and painless customer service experience.
Of course I hope my card number is never stolen again, but on the off chance that it is, knowing that I’ll receive outstanding customer service from American Express makes it the first card I reach for in my wallet.
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