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Trust, customer service and customers you do not want any more

I’ve been thinking about my recent American Express experience – outlined in AMEX discovers new depths to customer service.

It is clear to me that companies have the right to choose which customers they deal with. But it seems that how they remove those customers from the books is the critical thing for brand and customer experience.

I’m not sure if American Express were really trying to get rid of me as a customer. But if that was the case, it is entirely within their rights.

However, it is not so much the “what” they did that rankles; instead it is “how” they did it.

In this case Amex abandoned a customer in a foreign town with none of the promised financial resources for which they had contracted. American Express provided little advance notice in case their customer was not at home. Thus, in this case, American Express left a woman who was traveling alone unable to rely on the card that exhorted us to “don’t leave home without it“.

So people like me – who believed in things like the claims made in all those American Express advertisements; the many years of services provided and payments made; who trusted in the credit limits offered – were left abandoned without notice in a foreign place without help or support from a brand that had made promises to us.

What does this experience of American Express customer service say to me? It says that I can’t trust any companies anymore. No matter how good their advertisements sound it does not matter. If a brand that I once respected, like American Express, can abandon me like that then I can’t trust any brands.

Any brand that does not want me as a customer has an absolute right to let me know that – I don’t want to be where I’m not wanted.

But I do expect that companies will treat me in a civil manner. That they will give appropriate notice of their intentions. And that they will enable me to make an orderly exit from their embrace.

I am angry and saddened that my trust has been damaged so badly by the way that American Express treated me. It is not what they did to me (in terms of change the terms of our agreement, e.g. reducing credit limits) that is the problem. But I do have significant concerns about how they went about it (e.g. giving me no advance notice of the changes & leaving me in a foreign city unable to rely upon their promises).

What is most disturbing is the way that my trust has been destroyed, not only in the institution of American Express, but in all other similar institutions.


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