During these wild, crazy, scary, uncertain times that our global community is now facing, there is no doubt that we are also seeing a lot of good. A lot of kindness, love and empathy. It’s times like these where the good in our world, both in companies and in individuals, shine the brightest.
Speaking for myself, I can say that just scrolling through my news feed on Facebook, I am seeing many friends who are making homemade masks, donating food and electronics, delivering groceries to their elderly or immune-compromised neighbors, etc. From the moment that the state-of-emergency was declared in the US, my email was flooded with notifications on how companies that we do business with plan to step up, whether to offer no-interest and penalty-free late payments, lower interest rates, or offer new low interest options. We received calls from the banks that we do business with as well, checking in to see if we are OK and letting us know about new programs that they are rolling out, in the event we inevitably face financial hardship.
Except for one. Only one. American Express. The only communications that we have received from Amex have been their standard, automatic “payment reminders” and “did you know you can set up auto pay?” notifications, while surrounded in my inbox with offers of understanding, support and empathy. Their notices, unfortunately, stood out like a sore thumb amongst the others.
Pre-Covid, we have had several negative experiences with Amex so all in all, we were not totally caught off guard by their lack of support to their small business customers, but it did cause us to reflect on our past experiences with them. Something that many smart businesses do is focus on Customer Success. How do you educate your customers on how to best manage your resource? In our several-year-long learning curve with utilizing Amex as a business expense management tool, we learned, the hard way, that it is a resource best used for recurring monthly expenses rather than large, one-time purchases. Through this learning curve we reached out to them several times and learned quickly their attitude of zero tolerance, flexibility and understanding, let alone a complete absence of coaching and educating their customers from the gate.
Our small business has been a loyal Amex customer for years because they offer options that make sense for us to manage our recurring monthly expenses, but they certainly do not make it easy. Their lack of support to their loyal small business customers is astonishing. Their customer service is a joke. Most of the time when you call them you get a stiff, narrow minded, robotic representative on the phone who refuses to acknowledge that they are capable of providing their customers with flexibility. It’s just plain sad and extremely disappointing. I know that when we get through this Covid-19 pandemic we will be actively pursuing a plan to move away from American Express all together, and I would encourage small business owners in our network to do the same. It’s times like these where true colors shine through, and American Express has certainly let theirs show.