Wednesday, July 8

30 Years with American Express

I had reason to contact customer service at American Express yesterday...nothing anyone really ever wants to do but I have to say that the brand always makes it a pleasant experience. There was a transaction on my statement that I hadn't authorized so I asked them to look into it.

After we finished discussing the details, which was totally satisfying, the customer service representative said to me, "I see you are celebrating your 30th Anniversary with us this month. Congratulations and thank you for 30 years of your business and your loyalty."

Wow, 30 years!

It obviously hadn't occurred to me and why would it really?!?

But then again, I did just celebrate my 30th college reunion so clearly I must have applied for the card right after graduation. At the time, I was about to head to Boston to start my first job, so I guess I needed to establish some credit. I don't really remember.

But as soon as that rep said that it had been 30 years, I felt a rush of memories about my financial status through the years. Starting out with my first job and wondering how much rent I can afford. Then eventually a new mortgage after I got married and started to "settle down." College funds once the kids were born because I had to start thinking about their future too. Separate (and very thin) budgets after my divorce. Soaring interest rates and credit card debt that came with the Great Recession. College tuition and then double college tuition as the kids started to move into their own journeys. Coming to grips with the empty nest and changing where and how we live.

I've chronicled much of that in my new book, Out and About Dad, along with all the other twists and turns that come with raising a family and managing a career. We've all been through these things, or at least a collection of them, and we can learn from each other. American Express just reminded me of that again. Thank you for reminding me of that again.

It's been a roller coaster financially for both our culture and for me personally. I've survived those ups and downs, thankfully, and can now look back on the financial pressures that could have crushed me and realize now that I made it through. Still making it through and will probably always still be making it through. We all are.

While I'd never thought about it before, I guess American Express has been there all along the way...with me every step of the way.

Which is exactly what a brand should do. It's exactly what any brand should do. Brands should be there every step of the way as their consumers live their lives and face their challenges. Loyalty will result. I mean, really, how many brands have you been loyal to for 30 years?

I've been loyal to American Express my entire adult life without ever second-guessing it. That's pretty amazing, from a branding and a personal perspective.

What's your experience? JIM.

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