Customer Service at American Express: A Relationship, Not a Transaction

by: M.S. Krishnan

Publication Date: December 11, 2012
Length: 20 pages
Product ID#: 1-429-100

Core Disciplines: Information - Technology & Management, International Business, Strategy & Management

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Jim Bush, Executive Vice President of American Express (Amex) World Service, was confronted with a challenge in the mid 2000s: After working for Amex for 24 years, he began to worry that the company was focusing too much on cost reduction. Customer service was eroding as the company strove to stay competitive during hard economic times. In response, he led the organization in a large-scale reinvention of its customer service strategy with an initiative called Relationship Care. By empowering employees with technology and information, Amex greatly improved its customer service and profits. Moving forward, students must help Amex address the challenges of taking “Relationship Care” global.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Examine how a company can make social changes to transform its culture to build long-term relationships with customers and empower employees.
  • Explore how information architecture can be used to better serve customers and employees.
  • Identify the roles leaders can play in transforming a company’s culture and operations to improve customer service, empower employees, and make their organizations successful even in difficult economic climates.