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Published on February 1st, 2017 | by Editor

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American Express Brand Analysis

American Express started off in New York as a mail delivery service, back in 1850.  It is now the 22nd most valuable brand in the world and it is worth an estimated $15 billion.

How have American Express grown to such heights today?  Let’s analyse what it is about their brand that makes them stand out as a premium financial services player.

American Express

Exclusivity

American Express do a great job of positioning themselves as an exclusive brand, paying close attention to their premium customers.  Their tiered cards do this well.  Customers who hit a certain level of spend are opened up to apply for the next level of cards.
This tactic is a well-known marketing tactic and plays on the consumer’s need to feel special.

The cards are Green, Gold, Platinum and Centurion.  Centurion card owners are invited only with an initiation fee of $7,500 and an annual charge of $2,500.  A high price tag.  Well, not for a status symbol which customers clamour to get access to. To make it feel even more exclusive, American Express don’t disclose the details of what customers are entitled to, until they’ve entered the centurion club.

This exclusivity is something American Express actively promotes through Content Marketing Placements. This article on Nerd Wallet is a perfect example. It uses real customer experience and shows how the cards, and brand, play a part in each customer’s life.

Ask Amex

Ask Amex is American Express’ customer service Twitter channel. It might make sense to open up a channel for customers to get rapid fire responses but it is also a risky move.  American Express open themselves for public complaints if something goes wrong.  What is really clever is that they have released that Social Media is open with or without the brand being involved.  By encouraging customers to get in touch through their dedicated channel, they have a far better chance of dealing with any issues quickly and dampening fires that arise before they become uncontrollable.

Customer service on Social Media is being adopted widely and for good reason. Companies that use it have reported a 19% increase in customer satisfaction.  They also save money as well. The average cost of interacting with a customer through a traditional call centre is $6 compared with $1 through twitter.

Combining Exclusivity With Fantastic Customer Service

So, what does the combination of exclusivity and fantastic customer service do? How does this leverage American Express into such a market leading position?

Exclusivity attracts customers but focusing solely on financial rewards, is not a great tactic for retention. Competitor banks are coming out with new offers and their own deals to entice customers to switch all of the time.

It’s the five star customer service which keeps customers at American Express. Ensuring that customers have a positive experience at every interaction is a top priority.

As an example of how far they go, their customer service representatives are trained to respond to customers on an individual basis.  They are trained to shift their response depending on customer personality. Kenneth Chenault, CEO points out, “You’ve got to develop relationships. You can’t do things just in a formal context.”

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