Companies that refer to themselves as Global do so to illustrate their ability to operate around the world and of course to give the impression of size, reliability and capability. However, I am constantly surprised at the number of companies that refer to themselves in that way but really mean they have operations in other countries. Operations that have no integration, no common systems and no ability to work together, so much for Global.
Global Companies: A Tale of Two Countries
I recently wanted to fulfill a wish from one of my daughters for her birthday. She had found a necklace sold by Tiffany & Co. It was her 21st birthday and given that the necklace was very reasonably priced I wanted to get it for her. I live in the US, she lives in the UK. Usually this is not a problem. I either have whoever I am ordering from ship direct or I go to their UK website and order from there. I do this all the time with Amazon and it works without fail.
However the Tiffany US website, having led me through their checkout process, doesn’t allow for international shipping addresses. Ok no problem I’ll use the Tiffany UK website, I go through the same checkout process only to find that their payment screen doesn’t allow International billing addresses. Undaunted by this I phone the Tiffany helpline, where a very helpful support person informs me that they are familiar with this issue, that they are working on a solution and that they are sorry to have caused a problem. She then tells me the solution is to phone the nearest store to where my daughter lives in the UK and have them ship it. She even provides me with the telephone number – great service.
I phone the UK store, explain what I am trying to do only to be told that they can’t take international payments, her advice was to go to my local Tiffany store buy the item there and ship it myself!
Tiffany fails on being a Global company in my book – they definitely need to be able to transact across borders.
Global Companies: A Further Tale of Two Countries
So I bought the necklace at my local store and then headed to Fedex, because after all they are an global shipping company. I filled out the requisite paperwork and then discovered that the Fedex could not find the city that the package was going to. In fact the assistant in the store referred to the destination as “some small country”!
Fedex failed because their people are trained to believe what the system tells them and not use their initiative. In the end I took my package to the Post Office, who within minutes had it addressed, labelled and on its way to the UK – also for a lot less than Fedex would have charged me.
Global Means Integration
So the lesson here is, if you are going to refer to your organization as Global or anything else for that matter make sure you can actually deliver on those claims. If you are going to be a global company then you need a lot more than a store in another country.
What are your experiences with global businesses?