Citibank Shows the Future is Bright for Customer Engagement

In my last blog post, The Future of Customer Engagement Will Look Much More Like This, I shared a personal experience that sure felt like the future of customer engagement. And wouldn’t you know it, I had another one. This time Citibank brought the love.

Not too long after the Amazon incident, my family traveled from California to Oregon for my daughter’s softball tournament. My son decided to take advantage of some tax free shopping and purchased a MacBook Air. When I tried to make the purchase on his behalf, my credit card was declined. As I grabbed my phone to call the company, the following text message arrived:

As you can see, the entire issue was resolved in less than a minute. Immediately following, the purchase was made and we were happy campers. A frustrating moment was transformed into an unexpected delight.

Let’s quickly run through the checklist of characteristics created to describe the Amazon experience and see if this one holds up:


Customer-centricity – someone placed a priority on understanding, meeting my needs.

Intelligence – the company was aware a customer need was waiting to be met.

Automation – my issue was resolved without the need for human intervention.

Immediacy – it was handled in near real-time.

Element of surprise – we were caught off guard, experienced something uncommon.

Communication – information was delivered to the proper channel.

Well done, Citibank. This is the kind of experience that will breed loyalty and freshen-up your brand image in the age of the customer. Guess what other credit card companies? I will expect the same experience from you now. That’s just how it works.

When discussing this experience with my daughter, she shared that my mother-in-law was very upset when her credit card was denied in a similar fashion while school shopping with the grandchildren. Unfortunately, a text message with the option to confirm her purchase never came. The result was a customer left frustrated and with a negative brand impression. Small gestures can certainly have a huge impact on the outcome of experiences.


Have you had any recent experiences that hold up to the checklist above? Is there anything missing from the list? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

And, if you’re looking for ways to move the customer experience dial from good to great, hear what Ventana Research and our own Karina Howell have to say in their new white paper, “The Customer Experience: the Journey from Good to Great.

On a quest for the uncommon,


Jason Alley

Jason Alley

Jason Alley is a senior solutions marketing manager for Interactive Intelligence. Since his employment in 2010, Jason has helped Interactive Intelligence develop market requirements and go-to-market strategies for contact center, customer experience, and cloud solutions. Prior to Interactive, he spent ten years consulting with large enterprise contact centers and suppliers for Vanguard Communications, and a company he later founded, SmartContact Consulting. Jason spent the first seven years of his career in sales, marketing, and product management roles working for Aspect, Hipbone, Nortel, and others. Jason received his bachelor’s degree in business economics from UCLA.