Choose your partners wisely
It is really scary to me that the longer I am a consultant and the more involved I get with social media, the more I realize how much of what we see in our daily lives can translate into smart business practices for associations. Here is an example:
In the spirit of going green, I do as much of my banking as I can through my bankâ€™s Online Banking System. I recently signed up for an e-bill service that would replace my paper statements with email notifications alerting me to when a bill was available so that I could review and pay it online. I thought this was a fantastic way to do thingsâ€”until I didnâ€™t receive a statement from one of my credit cards for about 3 months. Since this was a card I donâ€™t use frequently and honestly was trying to use less, I didnâ€™t catch the problem until I went online to check something else and saw that I was now 2 months delinquent and had late payment fees as well as interest charges piling up.
I immediately called the credit card company. They informed me that they had not made a mistake; their job was just to make sure that the e-bill partner had received the bill. If I then didnâ€™t receive it, that wasnâ€™t their fault. They refused to waive any fees and told me to call the e-bill company.
My next step was to call the bank where I originally signed up for the e-bill service. They told me that they understood the problem but that they needed to conference me in with their e-bill provider. Once we had the e-bill partner on the phone, they told us that they had not received a bill from the credit card company in 3 months. We then tried to conference the credit card company in as well, but they continued to be adamant that they did not do anything wrong and literally hung up on all of us.
The good news is that the bank and their e-bill provider agreed to jointly reimburse me for the charges. The bad news is that it took me almost 90 minutes and quite a bit of frustration to get there.
All this could have been prevented if my bank and their e-bill provider had predicted the credit card companyâ€™s reaction to such a problem and had more detailed procedures in place to make sure something like this did not happen. The bank and the e-bill provider handled it very well, but the situation could have been avoided if the bank had chosen their partners a little more wisely.
Partnerships are a great way for associations to extend their offerings and serve their members in a cost- and time-effective way. But we must all perform due diligence and set up as many procedures as we can so that situations like the one above do not happen to our members. Members want to know that they are getting good service and do not want, or need, to see â€œbehind the curtain.â€ It is our job as association professionals to make sure they experience good (and seamless) service when working with us and with our partner organizations.
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