by Erik Loehfelm,

‘We don’t take American Express.’ I’m a consumer. I’m Standing at the checkout with your goods in hand with my ‘money out’ and you won’t accept it. How could there be such a customer experience failure at the pinnacle of the entire process?

It would seem to me, that a person trying to sell me goods or services would want to accept any form of payment I’ve presented. You’ve got me! Take my money! If your business is running on such thin margins that you cannot accommodate a few percent overhead on a broader selection of acceptable credit options, you have bigger issues than Amex vs. Visa.

I believe this example is a microcosm for the challenges that organizations face with regard to being customer centric. The choices consumers have for services and products are staggering. Especially if you consider a web based, mobile or direct to consumer options. Why would a company challenge their own profitability by forcing a payment mechanism unfriendly to a customer? Don’t these guys realize, I can stand in-line at the check out of most stores and make the same purchase on my phone for typically less money than I’m about to spend in-store? The only benefit typically is immediacy. A frustrated experience trumps immediacy.

Other consumer challenges exist that we’ve all experienced in some way. How many good support hotlines have you called lately? What does your online bank system look like for your checking account? What benefits does your airline or hotel chain provide to you on your mobile phone? If you’ve had quality experiences, don’t you typically return to those vendors as opposed to looking for new solutions?

The customer experience challenge is about touch points. It should be a company’s goal to tie together these touch points in a cohesive manner and optimize them. An organization should aim for its in-store experience to equal a satisfying on-line experience. Be sure that the customer service representative on the phone is trained and empowered to create the same level of experience quality as a front line salesperson. Make certain that the employees manning the register know a few things about making people feel satisfied they purchased the right thing.

Not accepting AMEX is a snub of the consumer centric concept. I assume that these merchants don’t see this error in their approach to business. Unfortunately for them, they may not until it’s too late. So listen up ‘Mr. local java shop’ or little book store on the corner! Find another way to make up the few points on my purchase by using different light bulbs or something. If you don’t, I’m taking my business to someone who cares about me more.