Last week I had the privilege of hearing Mary Lee Swales, Vice President of New Cardmember Acquisitions for American Express speak in Toronto. While Ms. Swales' role would suggest that her primary focus is to attract new members to American Express, her presentation highlighted, yet again, how committed American Express is to excellent service, and why they excel at customer loyalty.
At the same time that I was enjoying such an enlightening presentation, my roommate was back home, battling it out with Time Warner Cable (explanation: NYC cable provider). Sitting in the conference room, with my roommate's rant-filled email still in my mind, I was struck by how different, nay opposite, these 2 companies operated. Listening to Mary Lee as she went through American Express' 6 point program, I couldn't help but draw parallels to my own situation back in New York.
Point 1: Make all touch points a positive experience – Fail. Just getting on the phone with TWC is like pulling teeth. You have to slot at least 1-2 hours of your day for the phone call, as you will be connected, reconnected, redirected, and put on hold for minutes on end before finally speaking to a customer service providerâ€¦who then informs you that they aren't the right person to speak with.
Point 2: Do what I (the customer) expect – Fail. Ignoring the basic inability to even show up on time for installation, I have to unplug and reset my DVR box at least 6 times, every time I want to watch a recorded hour-long show (not an exaggeration, I counted last night). That box is a BASIC part of my cable package, and even that doesn't operate properly.
Point 3: Do more than I (the customer) expect – Fail, unless doing more than I expect is providing even worse service than I was already anticipating.
Point 4: Validate my choice – Fail. I cannot tell you how many people, including myself, feel that if they were given another choice, ANY other choice, they would leave TWC immediately. As the sole cable provider in my area, Time Warner Cable is comfortable, and they know it. So comfortable that you constantly feel like they're saying "you should be thanking us for giving you television"
Point 5: Make me feel special – Fail. Between the horrible phone times, inaccurate installation times, incorrect billings and rude customer service, I feel anything but special. I feel like the lowest of the low, that I am completely inconsequential and this company could give a rat's ass about me.
Point 6: Make me feel like you know me – Fail. I draw strong comparisons here to American Express. American Express sees what you purchase and where you dine, and offers you discounts for those special places. Time Warner Cable? Constantly sending me flyers to bundle my cable, internet and phone, when I don't even have a home line.
The bottom line for all of this is not just to share my horrible experiences with Time Warner Cable (Sir Patrick Stewart did that last week and I'm sure he was much more eloquent than I could ever be), but to highlight how by breaking down these individual points, American Express is able to take seemingly obvious areas of customer service and excel at them, while other companies (cough cough, nudge nudge) never even take the time to try. If my cable company offered even half of the quality of service that American Express offers their customers, I would be a loyal customer for life.