You Set the Expectations

You Set the Expectations

Ask Paul Abbot, the Executive Vice President of Commercial Payments at American Express what he thinks separates AmEx from the competition and he will give you three simple differentiators: trust, service and relationships.

In an interview with CEO magazine, he said, “Service is very much the heart and soul of the company… Our customers expect exceptional service every day because that is the standard we have set.”

Clearly, the standards at American Express have worked well for over 165 years. Founded in 1850 as an express mail service, the company has grown to process over $400 billion in annual spending volume. I could list a dozen ways American Express has invested in technology, digital commerce, artificial intelligence, new apps and even new kinds of emerging currency like Bitcoin, but the core of the company if you ask any small or medium-size business owner, is that they trust American Express to provide great service and fix things when there is a mistake.

Other competitors in the credit processing and B2B services industry can tout newer technology, faster apps and lower rates, but those are largely delivering on expectations set by customers who just want things cheaper or faster. American Express has wisely determined to set their own high expectations and then meet them.
The next time you face pressure in the marketplace to deliver a product or service based solely on the price, remember that you get to determine the high value you provide. You set the expectations and deliver on them through trust, service and relationships. New technology and digital disruptions will change a lot in our profession, but these three business-building factors will never go out of style.


Worked at Burleson Orthodontics. Attended University of Missouri–Kansas City. Lives in Kansas City, Missouri.