In this new world of co-opetition, we are finding ourselves partnered with other businesses and services to offer a more complete experience to our customers. However, we need to make sure these alliances are smart choices.
My son, who now lives in Chicago, was recently robbed while on the big bad streets of the windy city. It was a Sunday evening and there he was. No ID, no ATM or credit card and most seriously, no Student ID card which meant – no access to his building or his food account. He didn’t have a penny to his name, just his smile (which he wasn’t flashing) and a cell phone.
He texted me after trying in vain to rectify the situation. The building security wouldn’t let him in unless he had $25 to buy a new student ID card.
He was on the streets.
I drove to the local CVS which had a Money Gram hotline phone. “Just pick up the phone and you can wire transfer the money,” I was told.
So I went through the process and it was simple. I paid CASH to the CVS desk and called my son with the special code. He walked across from his apartment building to the CVS to retrieve the money.
Wow – this is simple, I thought.
Nope. The red hot phone didn’t work at the CVS – it had been broken for some time and there wasn’t another CVS or Money Gram location within the zip code. So I called Money Gram back and was told by Money Gram that CVS would issue the money. My son put the manager on the phone with Money Gram – an argument ensued and no money changed hands.
After a night sleeping in the lobby, he found a friend to loan him money while he waited for the CVS to fork over the already paid cash. THREE WEEKS LATER – still no cash.
So today I drove to the local CVS where the money was originally left and used the red hot phone to receive a special number that would enable the CVS to give me back the CASH I’d already given them.
I talked to the manager.
“We don’t give cash.”
You see they just have a relationship with the Money Gram phone – they aren’t connected. However, as a customer – I’m associating the services together. You see I gave CASH to a CVS employee. How is it my problem that the relationship they have with Money Gram is separate? In the mind of the customer – I gave money to CVS – why didn’t CVS give the money to my son who was in a crisis situation?
How much money, by the way? $50. Big corporate International chain CVS couldn’t fork over $50 to a young man in an emergency because it was caught in some silly red tape due to a red phone that didn’t work. By the way – if the red phone HAD worked – the cash still came from the CVS drawer. Yep.
How do I know? Because that is what happened today. When the manager stopped arguing with me this afternoon and actually entered the code into his computer, guess what message popped up? Dollar amounts under $200 are to be issued in CASH.
If we are going to connect with another company to offer additional services – we can’t wash our hands and say “that’s not my job.”
Because IF WE DO – our company brand is damaged. In my example – Money Gram did what they were supposed to. It was CVS that thought the rules were too important to bend that left my son homeless that night.
In my mind – CVS holds the blame – the brand has been damaged in my mind.
What do you think? If you connect with another company – do you feel comfortable washing your hands of the situation if something goes wrong or do you try to make it right?
Is this just Mama Bear protecting her young and not able to see the forest for the trees? Weight in with your comments.