American Express, the credit-card provider, has shifted the focus of its strategy from acquiring customers to “protecting” its existing clientele – and its brand – in the face of COVID-19.

Stephen Squeri, the firm’s chairman/CEO, said on an investors’ conference call that Amex has been “reprioritising” its investments as the Coronavirus pandemic challenges its consumer and small-business audiences.

“What we’re stopping for the time being includes items that are less critical in today’s environment, including traditional advertising, marketing, sponsorships, and customer-acquisition activities,” said Squeri. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: Amex pivots to “protect” customers, brand in face of COVID-19.)

A guiding principle behind Amex’s revised strategy is “protecting our customers and our brand” as the COVID-19 crisis impacts consumers and small businesses alike, he continued.

“Our global customer base is one of our most important assets. And, like everyone, they’re going through a difficult time right now,” Squeri said.

“We’re offering a range of financial assistance options to help our customers weather the storm, adding new product benefits to be relevant in today’s environment, and continuing to provide the world-class customer service our customers expect and rely on.”

One case in point involves providing short-term assistance, like allowing temporary payment deferrals or waiving late fees. Another is providing longer-term support for customers depending on their individual circumstances.

More than 845,000 accounts were enrolled in Amex’s pandemic relief program by mid-April, and approximately 88% of enrollees in the US had prime or super-prime credit scores.

“These are not people who are used to being in stress. This is such an unprecedented environment,” Jeffrey Campbell, Amex’s CFO, said.

“We’ll have to see how this plays out, but these are good card members on the consumer-side, and thriving businesses until they suddenly were forced by the government to shut down, on the small-business-side.

“And that’s why we are really focused on working hard with them to help bridge the current environment and, also, hopefully let some of the government programs kick in and help.”

Sourced from WARC