Although the payments industry is feeling more and more disruption from new technology, it's high time its institutions respond with a "human touch," according to Doris Daif, a vice president at American Express.
She's been the company's global head of digital customer experience for the last two and a half years, and in her 16 years at Amex she's led customer care operations, relationship management and small business acquisiton. This experience undoubtedly played a role in her more recent work managing digital products – first in the U.S. and then globally – before coming into her current role.
She describes her job as a race against industry disruptors who ostensibly offer faster, more convenient alternatives at lower costs.
"My job is to ensure that we are moving faster than those guys cutting through the noise, clutter, and veneer to what really matters to customers," she said. "We need to take our service ethos and digitize it in a way that continues to separate our 'human touch.'"
To achieve this, omnipresence is the name of game, she said. Frictionless payments, which she predicts will be one of the biggest industry developments of the year, allowing more personalization on the part of users. By improving on that area, Amex can find a way to "live in the pocket and life of the consumer," Daif said.
It's therefore important that Amex think about "not just the act of the payment (too late) but rather the upfront decisioning and choices," enabling consumers to "interact wherever and whenever they desire with greater memory and resilience," she said.
"Our ability to marry our closed loop information from both our direct relationship with cardmembers and merchants means that we can provide greater upfront value to both customer groups with greater personalization capabilities at hand," she added.
In a previous role, Daif embedded Amex's Relationship Care index across the company to help gauge customer loyalty and spending, as well as measure their growth. She called the initiative one of her proudest career moments, having led the program from its "incentive plans to portal design to Customer Relationship Management treatments, experiments, and measurement."
More recently, she also redesigned the company's website, first in the U.S. and then to outside markets, that resulted in the implementation of another impact indicator: Web interaction scores and digital engagement.
"We've embedded this way of working, along with these digital disciplines and talent pipeline, into the company in a way that is both repeatable and respected."
To encourage women in their careers in the payments industry, it is important to look both within and outside the organization, she said.
"I think helping women when they are more junior in their careers recognize the importance of that network [of leadership] and how to cultivate and nurture it is crucial to growth," she said. "The other aspect then is the 'paying it forward' — as I've observed and grown, I've also cultivated a group of women that I sponsor and mentor."