Is your MSP user experience as good as...American Express?

Dave Sobel

Managing how users interact with data and drive productivity is a key success factor for MSPs and solution providers as technology continues to advance. User experience is more than delivering good customer experiences, however. It’s also about making a notable difference in the way users interact with systems.

American-ExpressRecently, I was traveling to work with some of our European partners, and helped host a dinner at the end of a day of sessions. As is customary, someone had to pay the check, and I took charge of this important duty. I’ve long been an American Express customer, due to their high level of customer service and the protections the card affords me, particularly with significant travel. On this occasion, American Express gave both me and the merchant a very notable experience.

To set the stage, let’s note the circumstances. I’m an American, based just outside of Washington DC. I had just arrived in London from Los Angeles the night before, so my location could certainly be deemed “out of the norm.” In addition, when I handed my card to the restaurateur, the tab was certainly out of the norm for a typical restaurant bill, as we had more than sixty guests. As you might expect, this set off the fraud alert for my card.

After using the card, the restaurant showed me the display to “Call American Express” for the charge. At that moment, my phone buzzed, with a push notification to the American Express app that I have on my phone. The message was to “Click here to speak to American Express”, which I did. This dialed a phone number, and an automated attendant greeted me, identifying me by name and saying it had recognized my mobile number. It asked me to enter my card number to verify I had it in my possession, and once I did, the system then told me it would be sending me a text message, and to follow the on screen instructions.

The restaurateur and I both looked at each other and smiled, talking about how easy this was proving. I clicked the text, which opened a webpage, displaying my name, and asking me to verify the charge. It displayed the charge specifics (showing it in US Dollars for me), and with a simple tap, I was able to verify the charge. At that moment, the restaurant’s credit card reader responded, and we were able to settle the bill. The entire experience took roughly two minutes.

fraud-protectionBoth the restaurant and I were quite impressed by this. We talked about how we both felt protected from fraud by this, and how easy it was to handle. Of course, American Express had no actual people involved in our transaction. An automated system did all the work and took care of us both, but did so in a way that was user friendly, was responsive, and built trust. In fact, not only did the experience prove so notable that I talked about it with the merchant, but I’ve also spoken about it to colleagues, and written this blog.

When you think about how you support your users, is the experience of the interaction that smooth? Using automation doesn’t mean being uncaring nor impersonal, nor does using technology mean that people aren’t the center of the experience. Often, we focus on the technology implementation of systems, but lose sight of the people who are the core of the system. Efficiency can deliver both a more profitable business and a higher level of service, allowing a solution provider to focus on advanced services. Keeping the user experience at the core is the key to delivering higher value. American Express charges more for their cards to consumers and to merchants in fees – but proves in delivery why those charges are worth it. Does your own practice?

Have you ever experienced user interaction so good it's worth talking about? We'd love to hear about it, share your experiences with us in a comment below!