I don’t typically write about user interfaces because others do a very good job. And especially in this case, because typically American Express does such a great job overall with their customer experience, but this is instructive.

I attempted a login to my merchant account but couldn’t remember my password. Easy enough to recover it, right? Well, not so much. While AmEx has done an amazing job on their consumer side, the merchant side still has some glitches. This was the recovery screen. Note the requirement to accurately select the question I had used when I created the account four years ago. So it became a guessing game, with me wondering if somewhere along the way I’d be locked out because of too many attempts remembering which question I had selected.

Click on image to view full-size.

Click on image to view full-size.

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Eventually I guessed the right question and thankfully wasn’t locked out, but it was an uncharacteristically frustrating process. So what’s the right way to do this? AmEx already knew which question I had selected when I created the account some years ago, so all that’s needed is to make it a two-step validation process: First ask for the user ID, and on the subsequent page, present the previously identified question with a space for the answer.

Easy, right? AmEx, you do so many things well. Don’t let this dampen the enthusiasm your customers have for your brand.