Friday, November 8, 2013

Meet Julie Hay! The Woman Behind World Service at American Express Canada

A sponsored hip + urban girl post.

After graduating from university, I was in a bit of a wardrobe slump. I needed a grown-up wardrobe, but I had been living in my college duds for so long I didn’t even know where to start. I wandered into a store I have always admired at the Eaton Centre in Toronto and pulled a military-style skirt off the rack. Oooooohhhh how do I even wear this? Between the hoodies, jeans and sweatpants I had lost my sense of style.

An outgoing salesperson caught my puzzled face and started pulling tops, belts and sweaters to help me style a skirt I had no idea how to wear. It was so unexpected, but I really felt like I had my own personal stylist shopping for me and I walked out of there with a brand new work-ready outfit, a ton of confidence and a glow from this excellent shopping and service experience. 

When I was recently asked to think about a great service experience and why it was important to me, I immediately thought of the example above and wanted to delve deeper into what this means to Canadians.

I asked Julie Hay - Vice President and General Manager, World Service at American Express Canada for her thoughts on the topic. She leads a team that strives for an overarching global goal of providing a high and consistent level of service for American Express Cardmembers.

What defines great service to you?

Julie: Great service is about the experience, where an organization can understand exactly what I am looking for and responds in a personalized way. 

I have noticed that American Express puts a lot of emphasis on great service, especially when compared to other credit card providers. Why is it so important to your company to go above and beyond?

Julie: Great service is part of our 160-year heritage and we have focused in on this to become a respected service brand. It is at the heart of everything we do. We care about the relationship we have with our Cardmembers and how we serve and interact with our customers. We don’t see this as an expense, but a strategic competitive lever that we have.

It’s important that we innovate and understand our customer needs and look at the next big thing. We have a large presence on social media because we want to be where our customers are. We want our Cardmembers to feel supported and we want to be able to have an authentic and real conversation with them through the service we provide to them.

Why do you think excellent customer service is so important to Canadians?

Julie: Service is a part of our everyday life and the impact of a great experience and how you feel after that interaction really matters. We recently commissioned a study on service and discovered that word-of-mouth spreads fast and it is infectious! People who had an excellent service experience would even go on and do something great for someone else later that day.

What surprised you most about this service study?

Julie: The study really reinforced what we believe in and what we do at American Express. I was most surprised to learn that it’s not just bad service that travels, but great service travels by word-of-mouth too and can have an amazing impact on people.

Have you had an amazing customer service experience? What have you done to pay it forward?

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