American Express has invested over 160 years in building one of the world’s most admired brands. Customer safety, trust, and convenience have been core values since the company’s beginnings as an express postal service in 1850. This commitment to service has driven innovations from Travelers Cheques to the iconic credit cards bearing the words, “Member Since.” But today’s competitive landscape is unlike any before it, fueled by rapid innovation and rife with startups bent on disrupting the status quo. From Travelers Cheques to credit cards to Apple Pay, American Express has never been afraid to reinvent itself to serve customers, and now the company has partnered with Salesforce to do it again. Today, American Express is transforming service for the Digital Age, with Salesforce as a key partner. “American Express wants to take service into the 21st century by redefining what it means,” said Susan Sobbott, president of Global Corporate Payments. “The way we redefine it is by being so real time and so in the know, that we can actually anticipate what customers need.” For the Digital Age, that means using data to help customers solve problems and make key business decisions. “The power for us is the information we have, the trust we have with our customers, and our employees’ ability to deliver on that,” said Greg Keeley, EVP of Global Corporate Payments. “Salesforce enables us to connect these dots.”
“American Express is a company that has always been grounded in creating great customer experiences,” said Barbara Agoglia, Global Head of E2E Marketing for Corporate Payments. A century ago, that meant honoring letters of credit so Americans stranded in Europe at the beginning of World War I could fund their passage home. Today, it means ensuring customer security as technology redefines how we pay for everything from groceries to mortgages. “Whether you're using a card or Apple Pay or other new technologies that are on the horizon, we want to lead the world in how payments are executed in the business space,” Agoglia said.
Consumers worldwide know the value of the American Express brand, and the Global Corporate Payments division brings that same level of service to corporate accounts. Processing the business world’s payments gives American Express a broad view into client spending patterns. Salesforce helps turn that data into insights those businesses need to make smarter decisions. “Our business is not just about payments; it’s about providing information for our clients so they can run their businesses,” said Keeley. “How do we make their lives easier?”
One way is by providing rich experiences based on critical, real-time information. “I think consumer-driven technologies have really changed the game and set expectations,” Keeley said. For instance, business travelers use American Express products for managing expenses and travel details from the road. Keeley sees an opportunity to add more value for these customers. “For them, we’re thinking about: What is the travel experience that they're used to and expect? And how can we take that and leapfrog it and make it even better?” he said.
American Express transformed the travel experience by pairing secure payments with easy-to-use business tools. And now it offers them on the one thing no road warrior leaves home without: the smartphone.
“We're powering payments on the phone for two reasons,” Keeley said. “One, so the customer can choose to pay with plastic or on the device. Two, that same device is going to be where they can capture their itineraries, where they can capture their receipts, and send in their expense report.” When expenses can be filed from the road and wrangling paper receipts becomes a thing of the past, life is that much easier for the business traveler.
American Express knows its people are its greatest strength, and Salesforce helps them work smarter — and have more fun on the job. Company leaders see the technology as a unified whole, not a collection of pieces. “It’s a platform for our employees — sales, accounts development, servicing, marketing, and product people — to communicate, react in real time, and solve customer problems,” Keeley said. The partnership between American Express and Salesforce started with Sales Cloud in 2010. Now, the Customer Success Platform connects thousands of employees across organizations, locations, and time zones. Chatter facilitates communication and excitement around solving customer pain points. Sales reps who traded their manila folders and desktop PCs for portable tablet computers running Salesforce now get out of the office and in front of clients more. These reps now have complete views of customers before they walk into meetings, and the Salesforce1 Mobile App also connects to Chatter for real-time collaboration among colleagues. The success American Express has had with the Customer Success Platform is just one example of the company’s transformation for the Digital Age. From a sales team locked into Chatter to smartphone apps that make business travel easier, American Express is leveraging real-time connectivity to take service into the future. Its members wouldn’t expect anything less.