SPONSORED The American Express Promise: Superlative Service

Coldplay Unstaged is brought to you by American Express Canada.

Sometimes being the best just isn’t enough.

American Express Canada doesn’t want to be known as the best credit card business in the world, according to VP David Barnes — they want to be known the world’s best service business, period. A tall order, sure, but on October 26, American Express showed first-hand that they’re up to the challenge.

Amex hosted a dinner event for “influencers” (social media–speak for “popular bloggers”) at Thompson Toronto, the recently opened and sole Canadian franchise in the Thompson chain of luxury hotels. The event centred on a live telecast of Coldplay, in Madrid, Spain, and featured guest speakers Michael Fazio, along with Barnes and fellow Amex VP Marc Hollenberg, who each shared concise but cogent views on the importance of service.

The much buzzed-about Fazio boasts the title of “New York City’s Top Concierge” and is the recent author of Concierge Confidential: an exposé-turned-handbook based on a career serving the rich and famous. The object of his teachings about excellent service is twofold: how to provide it as a business, and how to make sure you’re getting it as a consumer.

For Fazio, it’s important to go beyond expectations and create what he called a “culture of service.” Case in point: Amex’s roster of customer-care professionals, whose job it is to not only resolve Cardmembers’ problems but to provide personalized service, helping them get the most our of their card by facilitating Amex’s Cardmember benefits; it’s like having a pro problem-solver like Fazio on call at all times.

Just how important is service? Here’s the takeaway: In a market filled with choices, service can quite simply be the deciding factor between competing brands. To Hollenberg, every customer interaction is an opportunity to strengthen the customer’s relationship with the brand. It’s not surprising that Hollenberg doesn’t see customer satisfaction as an adequate measure of success — it’s customer engagement that counts.

So when consumers speak up, the brands had better be listening — or they’ll be hearing crickets soon.

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