American Express has taken a different approach to customer service and it's paying off well for the credit card company.

Last decade, companies like AmEx and even Sprint were just about the worst for customer service. Workers at call centers used by both companies were judged not by how much they helped the customer, but by how many calls they could cycle through in a given time. As a result, nobody wanted to business with them and both brands became damaged.

Fast forward a decade, AmEx has now revamped its strategy and turned customer service reps into "relationship care experts." The idea is that a call center rep can spend as much time as needed to solve whatever problem a customer may have.

The Financial Times  reports the new approach has been successful. The level of customer charges on AmEx accounts goes up by 8% to 10% after customers have a good experience calling in to get an issue resolved.

Years ago, I talked about an article that said the most loyal customers were those had a problem with a company and got satisfactory resolution to that problem. Those kinds of customers were found to be even more loyal than those who had never had a problem in the first place!

There's a lesson for all businesses here. Customer service is not a cost to be tamped down. It's an opportunity to serve customers in a way that will make them happy. By doing that, you'll find you have to spend fewer marketing dollars to find new customers because your old ones won't leave.

AmEx is not perfect as you know from the calls to my show. But they've definitely got the right approach. It's the simplest rule of all: Serve the customer.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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