THE LITTLE BIG THINGS

I recently had a rather strange experience. I received a compliment from a client on hellopeter.com for taking the time to interact with him on a claims query. The client lauded me for ‘taking time out of my busy schedule’ and for displaying visionary leadership. The hellopeter posting had a further knock-on effect when a number of MiWay employees jumped on the bandwagon to praise me. (We send all hellopeter postings, good or bad, to the entire company.

I was quite surprised and mildly amused by the reaction. Interacting with staff and clients is something I do on a daily basis. Furthermore, I didn’t agree with the client’s demand. I merely answered him properly and explained the reason for our decision properly. In short, I just did my job.

This begs the question: are consumers normally unable to get a response from the CEO of their service provider, to the point where they are surprised and delighted when they actually do get a response? If that is true, I have a major problem with it. What could be so important in the ‘busy schedules’ of CEOs that they don’t have time to interact with their clients? Our income comes from our clients, which means our lifeblood depends on them. In my mind, if you are too busy to respond to a query from a client, you do not deserve to take their money!

This experience also shows the importance of doing the little things right. We are often so focused on the next big thing that we forget the little things. And we underestimate the power of the little things. My response to this specific client was clearly something that he appreciated. For him, it wasn’t a little thing. It was a big thing. A little big thing!

At MiWay, we work hard to entrench a culture that drives the way we treat each other and our clients. We strive to create a work environment where staff can be themselves and fully express their talents and reach their potential. We also focus on treating customers in a way that shows our appreciation of their support. We realize they have many choices. The fact that they choose us to do business with is something we cherish.

It is not difficult to delight a client. Sometimes all it takes is showing a little humanness. Sometimes all it requires is keeping a promise. Often all it takes is doing the little big things!

Kind regards,

TOUGH TIMES IN THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY. HOW DO CHAMPIONS RESPOND?

Times are tough in the insurance industry. Exceptional profits for a number of years pre-2012 led to a price war as well as a number of new entrants who saw the opportunity of grabbing a share of the attractive, profitable “short-term insurance cake”. The natural consequence was that the industry experienced lower underwriting profit margins in 2012, and the compounding effect of the weakening rand on top of this created a “perfect storm”. More competition plus lower profit margins plus a weakening rand equals a disaster waiting to happen. The response from most insurers is to increase premiums to try and restore profit margins. This is bad news for consumers….

The challenge for insurers lies in finding ways to lower management expenses in order to keep premium increases as low as possible. The obvious danger of having to increase premiums is clients shopping around for cheaper premiums. This could lead to a “double whammy” for insurers in the sense that their profit margins shrink and they lose market share. Not a pretty picture.

My sense is that the tough times will be with us for a couple of years.

My tendency is to always look for the positives in any bad situation, to see the glass as half full, to look for the opportunities. Am I living in a fool’s paradise, or are there opportunities in a depressed market?

In my experience, tough times offer more opportunities for growth than good times. When things go well, people and businesses tend to just tick over…… and very few lessons are learnt whilst just ticking over. Tough times on the other hand force everyone to dig deep and more often than not valuable insights and solutions result from it. The well-known Plato saying, “necessity is the mother of invention”, says it all.

We know everything about tough times at MiWay. We launched in 2008, roughly a year before the credit crunch hit South Africa. We were suddenly faced with a much less attractive vehicle sales market than the assumptions in our business plan. We were faced with a simple reality: adapt, or die. Find a solution, or find another job. If only it was as simple as that! A bigger dilemma, for me, was the fact that we had a couple of hundred employees whose well-being weighed heavily on my conscience. I would have felt personally responsible for them losing their jobs if MiWay had to fail. Many of them had placed their trust in me and my management team!

One of my all-time favourite quotations, by the world heavyweight boxing champion of yesteryear, Jack Dempsey, comes to mind: “A champion is a person who gets up when he can’t”. We couldn’t get up. But we did.

We managed to find a number of solutions, some which stood us in good stead when times got slightly better. I have no doubt that had it not been for the sleepless nights of 2009, we would never have “discovered” some of our best strategies to date. I use the phrase “discover” to describe the process of trial and error – think, agonise, debate, argue, disagree, try, try again, try something else – until, eventually, something worked!

So, in a way, tough times are a blessing. If approached with the right attitude, it invariably leads the discovery of solutions that stand you in good stead once you emerge – hopefully not too badly scarred – from the storm.

Kind regards,

THE POWER OF WORDS

The year 2013 has started with a bang at MiWay. Before we knew it, January has come and gone. For me personally, January is a big month – firstly, because it happens to be my birthday month and secondly, because 70.3 Ironman (“half ironman”) takes place in January. So, both came and went (with a fair amount of joy and success) and now life (work and play) is moving along at a rapid pace.

I tend to be a sucker for quotations, especially those made by famous people. A quotation often becomes a bit of a cliché, but then again, the reason why it became a cliché in the first place is because it is normally based on the truth.

There are two quotations that recently caught my eye, both creating quite a strong inner response for different reasons.

The first one said “Happiness is a short-cut to mediocrity”, from an anonymous source. My first response was that it surely can’t be true. Don’t we all strive for happiness in our lives, our relationships, our careers? Then I got it…..if you are too easily happy or satisfied with things, if you set low standards, if you under achieve and you are still “happy” with your performance, you are indeed taking a short-cut to mediocrity. The difference between success and failure often lies in how high you set the bar, in your definition of success. If you are not easily satisfied, you won’t be “happy” with mediocre performances, and vice versa. This means that the standards you set for yourself and your level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your actual performance compared to those standards, determine the level of your success. In a way then, you should be wary of settling for sub-standard performances. Simply put, don’t settle for second best.

The question that arises, is: how “unhappy” do you have to be to avoid mediocrity?

Bill Gates refers to the concept of “running scared” as a means of avoiding complacency, which in turn leads to mediocrity. Andy Grove (at the time joint-CEO of Intel) authored the book “Only the paranoid survive”, where he argues that fear of failure is not necessarily a bad thing. Paul Harris, ex-CEO of Firstrand, once shared with me the fact that “mediocrity casts a shadow”…..meaning that the mediocrity of a manager/leader will eventually lead to the team’s mediocrity. I am personally not fond of ruling by fear, but I wholeheartedly agree with Paul’s view on mediocrity! In my experience, fear has the potential of paralyzing people. However, the healthy fear of failure I had for my late father certainly played a role in me making sure I made my way through university without undue delay!

In conclusion, if I’m too easily “happy” with below par performances, it will lead to complacency and eventually to mediocrity. So, looked at from that angle, it is true that “happiness is a short-cut to mediocrity”.

The second quotation that jumped up at me, is one of Jim Collins’s, namely “Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do yourself than on what the world does to you”. This is so true. We have much more control over what happens to us than we often want to accept. I suppose it is much easier to play the blame game. Blame apartheid, blame your parents, blame your teachers, blame your manager, blame your genes, blame the church, blame God……blame everyone except yourself.

For me, the learning from these two quotations are self-explanatory: accept accountability for your own life, grab your opportunities, set high standards for yourself, dream big, do everything in your power to meet those standards and to make those dreams come true, and never, ever, settle for second best!

These are the ideas and philosophies we debate and build our culture on at MiWay. Every so often, we repeat the same mistakes and then we go back to the drawing board and start afresh. But we never give up on each other. We are one big family and we care about each other’s wellbeing and success. When we succeed, we succeed together, and we keep an eye out for each other to ensure mediocrity never becomes acceptable!

Kind regards,

SUCCESS BREEDS SUCCESS

Time flies when you’re having fun. It’s amazing to think that we’re already in May. The year is indeed flying!

Life at MiWay is better than ever. Although we have previously had the odd profitable month, we have now enjoyed a fair number of consecutive profitable months. It is, at last, safe to say we’ve emerged well and alive and kicking from “the valley of death”. The latter is a term used to describe the period between launching a new venture to the point where it starts making profit. The reason for calling it “the valley of death” is because many new ventures die a slow death before ever showing any profits. Reaching break-even in the case of a financial services business (short-term insurance in our case) such as MiWay is by no means a given. It requires a massive capital investment from patient shareholders, passionate dedication from a motivated team (which includes many sleepless nights) and a long list of other requirements that all need to fall into place.

We are highly relieved and very proud at the same time! In just short of four years, we grew from zero to over 130,000 clients; we should collect in excess of a billion rand in premium this year; and we are experiencing acceptable loss ratios, expense ratios and retention ratios.

Along the road, we have had some pleasant surprises. We came first in the Deloitte Best Company to Work For Survey (medium size companies and financial services – insurance divisions); first place in the short-term insurance division of the Ask Africa Orange Index Survey; second place in the Ombudsman’s Isabel Jones Ukusizana Awards; and we currently have an 85% compliment ratio on the consumer website hellopeter.com. We don’t see these accolades as an indication that we’ve “arrived” in any way whatsoever, however, they are valuable indicators that we have a positive and constructive company culture, that we deliver a high standard of service to our customers and that we treat the enquiries from the Ombudsman with the respect and care that it deserves. And we use it as motivation to try even harder.

I am fortunate to have had a father who was a wise man. One of his favorite sayings was “success breeds success”, meaning the more a person, or team, or country, or company experiences success, the more it tends to be successful. Many successful sports coaches refer to the fact that “winning becomes a habit”. At MiWay, we work hard to instill a habit of winning; a culture of success. In my experience, people enjoy being part of a winning team, and they enjoy it even more if they can see how they contribute to the team’s success. The challenge for leaders, therefore, is to do whatever it takes to get their teams to taste success. Once a team tastes success, it wants more of it and eventually it becomes part of the team’s culture. It becomes a habit. That is a great place to get to, because in a success culture it takes a lot less managing and coaching and leading and supervising … the culture becomes the driver of the team’s behavior and because it is a culture of success, the behavior leads to success. I realise very well that we still have a long way to go at MiWay, but I do attribute the relative successes we’ve achieved in our first four years to the fact that we’ve laid the foundation of a culture of success.

The winter months are upon us and most sports lovers are looking forward to a jam packed international sports calendar. I hope the Boks and the Proteas settle quickly into success cultures in their respective upcoming engagements!

Kind regards,

Focus on doing the fundamentals right and the scoreboard will look after itself

We at MiWay recently experienced an unexpected but pleasing purple patch. On 4 October we were announced winners of the Ask Africa Orange Index Survey for Service Excellence in the Short-Term Insurance category, and on 5 October we were declared winners in two categories of the Deloitte Best Company to Work For survey, namely the winner of the Financial Services – Insurance category, as well as overall winner of the Medium Company Category.

Both surveys are prestigious and coming out tops in them is quite sought-after. The quality of previous winners is a clear indication that we have a lot to smile about. The Orange Award is based on random public opinion, whilst the Deloitte awards are based on the views of a randomly selected sample of MiWay staff. It seems, therefore, that we have both happy clients as well as happy staff!

To say we were over the moon would be a euphemism. In one sense, we didn’t expect it because we’ve only been in existence for just over three and a half years. In another sense, winning these awards confirmed to me the validity of a long-held belief, namely that results follow from doing the fundamentals right. It is more important to do the right things than doing things right. Put another way, effectiveness is more important than efficiency. First prize, of course, is to be both effective as well as efficient, to do the right things right. It is my conviction that if you do the right things right for long enough, you will win on the scoreboard. This is true for most things in life, but of course there is the odd exception: take for example the Springboks’ loss against Australia in the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup. The Boks were better at doing the fundamentals right, yet they lost on the scoreboard……sorry, I’m digressing…..

At MiWay, we work incredibly hard at creating a corporate culture that drives the right behaviour. In essence, we strive to create and encourage a cultural space wherein our staff can be happy and because they are happy, they provide the level of awesome service to our clients that we aspire to. We want to build a world-class business and in order to do that, we need our people to perform according to world-class standards. This is only possible if their work environment – the corporate culture – enables and encourages world-class behaviour. Culture drives behaviour. Whilst it is indeed possible to drive behaviour in the short-term through a variety of incentive schemes, only a healthy, positive culture will ensure long-term sustainable performance.

Our culture is based on four simple values, namely freedom, attitude, energy and accountability. We have various programs in place to create and promote this values-based culture. We keep it current and relevant on a daily basis, e g if a staff member (we call them freedom fighters, because they fight for our clients’ freedom by saving them time and money) receives a compliment from a client on our website or a consumer website such as hellopeter.com or on Facebook or Twitter etc, we make a hero of him/her by forwarding that compliment via e-mail to the rest of the staff. The recognition that flows from that simple deed, is immense. Another way of keeping the values current and relevant, is the samurai sword floating trophy that is awarded on a weekly basis to the freedom fighter who was the best example of the MiWay culture in the preceding week. The basis for this award is peer nominations and motivations. The power lies in the fact that the freedom fighter is recognised and celebrated by his/her peers! We don’t throw money at the challenge of creating and promoting our culture. Instead, we make heroes of ordinary people who do extraordinary things.

This might sound easy, but it takes commitment and focus and hard work from everyone, from the leadership down to the cleaning staff and proverbial “tea lady”. When it comes to the values, we are all equal. Every team member is a co-custodian of the values, which means he/she takes accountability for living the values on a daily basis as well as ensuring that the other members of his/her team also comply. We all clearly understand that only a joint effort by all will ensure the survival and longevity of the MiWay values-based culture.

Having said this, the role of leadership should not be underestimated. A fish rots from the head, and to quote something Paul Harris once shared with me: “mediocrity casts a shadow”. I agree with John Buchan when he says “the task of leadership is not to put greatness into people, but to elicit it, for the greatness is there already”. The leaders need to set the example, walk the talk, and provide the inspiration!

In case this all sounds a bit too serious, we also believe in having fun. As with the MiWay brand, we try not to take ourselves too seriously. The world we live in is serious enough. Our industry is known to be a grudge industry. We try to put a smile on our clients’ faces, which in turn puts a smile on our own faces!

And, if you think about it, it’s not rocket science. Simple things, like keeping your promises, are often all it takes to keep your clients happy. I love clients who complain, for two reasons: 1) they often provide you with valuable information about what’s wrong in your business, and 2) if you fix the problem properly, you often find that you’ve gained a client for life.

We are far from perfect. We still get it wrong on too many occasions. We still make basic errors that can and must be eradicated, but I suppose we get it right more often than we get it wrong. To quote Carveth Read: “It is better to be vaguely right than exactly wrong”. I think we get it vaguely right. But we certainly haven’t “arrived”. We are acutely aware of the danger of complacency …

In conclusion, we won’t allow these accolades to go to our heads, but we certainly allowed ourselves to celebrate. We popped some champagne … and then we got back to work again!

Kind regards,

Staying relevant – why MiWay embraces social media

Many big brands are still nervous about social media as it undermines the complete control demanded by old-style marketing mindsets. Acknowledging and even supporting the fact that your customers talk among themselves, and want to talk to you (and about you), is very threatening to that mindset.

But at MiWay we believe that engaging in conversation with our customers is the only way to stay relevant to them. And relevance, we have come to realize, is far more important to our business than being first to market.

Staying relevant means we first and foremost need to listen to our clients so that we truly understand their needs, lifestyles and what is important to them. Only through listening can we design and deliver products that people actually want, at prices they are willing to pay.

Learning how to listen is a challenge for most businesses and particularly marketers, who are used to doing all the talking. But we know we can’t count on blind “brand loyalty” any more, from a generation that is constantly bombarded with information. We have to earn that loyalty every day, by delivering great products, at great prices, and following up with fantastic customer service. There is no room for arrogance.

Social media means being really brave, but for brands who take their promises seriously it can be a revelatory tool. Not only do we get to stay in touch with what our customers think, feel and need, we get an army of supporters who will happily recommend us to their friends so long as we deliver what we’ve promised.

This is why MiWay embraces social media. We’re not a traditional insurance company, so why should we play by outdated marketing rules? We cultivate relationships and interactions with our clients because this way we are guaranteed to stay relevant. We make it easy for customers to find the information they need, when they need it, so they can make properly informed decisions about whether to buy our products. And we know that if we listen and learn from their comments, ideas and complaints, those products are more likely to be attractive.

The more relevant our products are to our consumers, the better for our business. And we believe it’s better for the whole industry too; being respectful and responsive is the way we build trust.

The rules of the game have been changed. The days of the dog and pony show, where the big corporate talks and the consumer listens, are forever over. The new rules are: Listen first, talk later. Ignore it at your peril.

Kind regards,

Reflections on achievement

In the last couple of months, we have celebrated the successful conclusion of our third year in business and we also reached the 100,000 client mark, a milestone which economists and statisticians say many new businesses never get to see. This must be particularly true for those brave entrepreneurs who embarked on their journey at the same time as MiWay. At that stage there was no hint of the financial crisis that would cripple the economies of the world, instead our economy was buoyant, South Africans were energised and the future appeared to hold nothing other than the promise of even better things to come.

But this changed overnight. One day we were basking in the sun of the prudent planning of our government and financial institutions; the next, our blue skies had been overshadowed by the storm clouds of the global financial meltdown. It was a lesson in economic interdependence or globalisation; we are all connected, able to benefit from the strongest amongst us, but equally vulnerable to the adverse effects resonating from the weakest.

The impact of the financial crisis on South Africa’s private sector and individuals has been quite simply devastating; leading, unsurprisingly to restructuring, liquidations and large scale job losses.

How is it that MiWay has been able to not only endure these harrowing conditions, but exceed the three-year targets we set for the business at the outset? These are the questions that insurance market watchers must surely be asking. After all, when we launched in February of 2008 the industry was dominated by a handful of players and the market was considered nearly impenetrable.

The answer is simple: we returned to the roots of what makes business work. And by this we don’t mean the business basics of systems, cash flow and process; we mean people.

To me it seems that as the business environment has ‘progressed’ it has forgotten that business is not done by buildings, computers or websites. Instead, business is done between people based on the health of their relationship.

We came into this business with a firm belief that people – our customers, our employees and our partners – would determine whether we made it or not. That meant clarifying what a healthy relationship with each group meant and the answer across the board was really rather simple: people want relationships based in trust, transparency and understanding.

It is these principles that permeate our business and guide the development of products and services that are then offered to the market. We have worked, and continue to work, hard to remove much of the mystery that the local insurance market founded itself on. This has resulted in products that include insuring a person based on that person’s driving style; interaction channels that are available when our customers want them; and rewards that are paid to customers who have maintained their relationship with us well, even if they have submitted a claim. In fact everything we have done has been checked against the question: will this make our relationships stronger?

The response of our customers, employees and partners to our underlying principle has been an overwhelming and unequivocal endorsement.

And so, I would like to thank you for entering a relationship with us, for coming on this journey with us. Please keep speaking to us, tell us what you like, what you don’t and what you would like to see. After all, our business is based on achieving the best possible relationship with you.

Serendipitous Windfall

Life at MiWay is progressing really well. We have managed to weather the credit crunch storm, built a strong desirable brand, gained critical mass and all our operational processes are running like clockwork. The most pleasing of all, is the fact that the business has reached break-even on a month-by-month basis. All this has been achieved in a highly competitive market and in tough economic times.

We have reason to feel satisfied indeed. The most amazing part of our journey so far, however, has not been the obvious profit drivers of premium income, expense ratios and loss ratios, but rather the unexpected bonuses that flowed from some of the unique features we built into the design of the business model. The serendipitous windfall I want to focus on is the special relationship we have with our clients and the benefits that flow from that.

When we sat down to plan and design the business model, we recognised the fact that we live in the age of the consumer as well as the age of the internet. This has profound consequences for any business that plays in the service industry, because the consumer today has much more power than 10-15 years ago. Due to consumer websites such as hellopeter.com, the consumer of today is armed with the power to reach thousands, if not millions of internet users with his/her complaint/compliment. The implication for service organisations is obvious: there is no place to hide anymore. If you mess up, the whole world will read about it on the web. The days of sweeping bad service under the carpet, is over. The flipside of the coin, however, is that world-class service gets rewarded by clients posting compliments on those same consumer websites.

With this in mind, we decided to embrace the reality by being pro-active and allow our clients to post comments, good or bad, on our own website where the whole world can read it. We did this for two reasons: firstly, to give management quick feedback on where the bottlenecks and problem areas were – unhappy clients are often the greatest source of learning – and secondly, to drive the right behaviour amongst our staff. Our advisors quickly realised that poor service is punished by a complaint, whilst good service is rewarded by a compliment. And, of course, it is much more desirable that your friends and family read positive things about you on the web rather than negative things!

It took a lot of courage to take that step. I am not aware of any other company in SA who make their client comments transparent to the world. Just imagine the consequences if it blew up in our faces? After all we were just a start-up, with all the associated growing pains, which made us especially susceptible to errors and lapses in service standards.

We were in for a surprise! We created a service culture second-to-none. Our people are driven to deliver the kind of service that would solicit compliments, not complaints. We have by far the highest compliment ratio on hellopeter.com. I specifically mention this website, because it is totally independent and widely used by consumers. It also provides a “league table” that allows quick and easy comparisons with our peers. At the time of writing, MiWay enjoyed a 75% compliment ratio on a 12-month rolling basis. Our closest competitor was sitting on 41%, whilst the industry average was 29%! This is truly amazing, and certainly a victory for transparency and good old service excellence. Refer to the League Table (to the right) to see the current standings.

The lesson to me is that although it might require courage to do the right thing, it is often rewarded beyond expectations. Another truly amazing fact, is that as far as I know, MiWay is still the only company that allows their clients to post comments, good or bad, on their website. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

We are very aware of the fact that we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. We have to live up to these high standards set by ourselves every day.

We appreciate the willingness of our clients to share their experiences of our service with the world via the web. It inspires us to continue going the extra mile and to set new standards.

Kind regards,

The role of Culture in an Organisation

With the World Cup upon us, words like ‘team spirit’, ‘gees’, ‘attitude’, ‘motivation’ and ‘passion’ are often heard. The general consensus is that a happy team with great team spirit is often a winning team. In fact, team spirit is often the only differentiator between two teams. In my mind, it is no different in the business world. Team spirit is derived from the culture in a team or organisation.

The competitive business world is like a war zone. Companies are trying to outsmart each other all the time, in order to gain sustainable competitive advantages. Most often, business leaders focus on strategies around product design and innovation, service delivery, or price to find the competitive edge. Brand positioning and advertising in focused distribution channels, and innovative ways of establishing sales opportunities, are other popular battle grounds. Far too seldom, however, the role and potential value of a strong corporate culture (or ‘team spirit’) is recognised as an integral part of a successful arsenal. In my view, a strong corporate culture not only lends itself to a competitive advantage, but the fact that it is particularly difficult to copy gives it its immense sustainability.

The logic is very simple: happy people perform better. The aim, therefore, is to create a work environment where people are happy. The challenge, however, is how to achieve that. In my experience, the starting point is to build a culture around a set of core values, not rules. Given the immense diversity of our rainbow nation, the next challenge is to find core values that are common to all religions, languages and ethnic backgrounds. If successful, this then has the added advantage of galvanising the troops into a strong, loyal unit. Once the set of core values have been discovered, the next challenge is to get individual ‘buy in’ from every member of the team, and once that is achieved, to keep it alive and strong. It is important that everyone understands that there is no hierarchy when it comes to values, and the only way to ensure that it remains a powerful force is if every single team member accepts accountability to act as a co-custodian of the values driven culture.

At MiWay, we build our culture around four simple values, namely freedom, attitude, energy and accountability. As CEO, I spend two hours with every new intake of staff, which happens every month, to ensure they become co-custodians of our values. Our management team ensures that all communication to staff is done in the context of the four values. Lastly, we have a weekly floating trophy, a samurai sword that goes to the individual who set the best example of living up to the values in the preceding week. At the end of the year, we have different ways of honouring and rewarding all the weekly winners. The passion and excitement surrounding the nomination process, and the prestige associated with receiving the award, leave me in no doubt our values driven culture is well and alive and giving us a sustainable competitive advantage in the market.

At MiWay, we are one big team. We battle together and we have fun together. We enjoy each other’s company. Often, this feeling of togetherness helps us to overcome tough challenges. Our corporate culture creates the environment for us to be competitive and successful in the ultra-competitive business world…..it often gives us the edge to win the battle. Most importantly, it ensures that we are having fun in the process.

Kind regards,

Online Comments Forum

To invite clients to post comments – positive or negative – on our website, took more than just a huge dose of courage. We were potentially opening ourselves up for massive reputational damage. If we delivered consistently poor service, and all the comments were negative, it could have done more harm than good. It could have exposed us as inept, hopeless, below par.

On the positive side, however, it would portray us as transparent and truly committed to customer satisfaction and awesome service levels. It would encourage clients to trust us, because we were not trying to sweep our blunders under the carpet. It would also improve channels of communication between us and our clients. Lastly, it would highlight problem areas such as bottlenecks, to which management could react swiftly. In short, it would portray us as honest and refreshing.

Above all else, it would make us the first company in SA (as far as we could establish) to do this.

Act of courage
We decided to take the plunge and do it. We were prepared to live with the risk of malicious people abusing the forum to harm us. We decided to place everything, no matter how scathingly negative it might have been. The only exceptions are blasphemy, hate speech, racism and banalities.

Great result
It turned out to be an absolute winner. We immediately became aware of problem areas. All new businesses have growing pains; the comments forum enabled us to effectively deal with our growing pains much quicker.

The split between compliments and complaints is roughly 50/50. This is encouraging, since people complain much easier than give compliments. I believe this initiative is the main reason why we have the highest compliment ratio in the industry on the independent website, hellopeter.com. It keeps us focused and on our toes. Our staff know they have no place to hide, they can’t sweep mistakes under the carpet. They also know if they delight clients, they might be honoured with a compliment that is visible to the whole world. In short, the comments forum has strengthened our service culture.

Challenge
It remains an open question why no-one else does this? Are service companies too scared to see what their clients think of them? Or don’t they really care? Just imagine what it will do to service levels in SA if all service related businesses had comments forums on their websites……

Our pledge
At MiWay, we remain committed to awesome service. We can’t guarantee that we will always get it right the first time, but we will certainly remain transparent and 100% committed to fixing our mistakes. Over time, I believe, our transparent approach will lead to our service levels reaching incomparable heights.

Kind regards,