Category Archives: Management

Run an Ironman to succeed in Business

Ironman Langkawi 2010 - Swimstart

Ironman Langkawi 2010 – Swimstart

On the first glance, the connection between running an ironman and running a successful business may not be that obvious. After all, what does spending up to 17 hours swimming, cycling and running have to do with managing employees, increasing sales and identifying new market opportunities?

The short answer to this question is: Commitment, Discipline, Perseverance, Flexibility, and Passion. Those are the critical attributes to success in business as well as in completing an ironman event. But first let’s have a look at what exactly an ironman competition entails.

The ironman event was started during the awards ceremony for the 1977 Oahu Perimeter Relay, as the members of the Mid-Pacific Road Runners and the Waikiki Swim Club wanted to decide who was fitter: runners or swimmers.  So U.S. Navy Commander John Collins suggested to combine the already existing three long-distance competitions on the island: the Waikiki Roughwater Swim (2.4 mi./3.86 km), the Around-Oahu Bike Race (115 mi./185.07 km; originally a two-day event) and the Honolulu Marathon (26.219 mi./42.195 km) into one event (source: Wikipedia).

Harald Weinbrecht - Business Coach, Entrepreneur, Triathlete

Ironman Hawaii Swimstart. Source: Wiki Commons

Collins supposedly said: “Whoever finishes first, we’ll call him the Iron Man.” Of the fifteen men to start off in the early morning on February 18, 1978, twelve completed the race. Today thousands of people compete in ironman events worldwide, and the record currently stands at below 8 hours for the complete distance.

Participating and finishing an ironman race within the allocated time is far from impossible, no matter your current fitness level, as long as you embrace the 5 critical attributes, which also apply to running a successful business.

  1. Commitment
  2. Discipline
  3. Perseverance
  4. Flexibility
  5. Passion

Customer Service and Feedback Forms

Every company should strive to get feedback from his customers. Listening to your customers about your service or your product is invaluable to improving your business. However, a famous local coffee shop chain has put forward a very good example on how NOT TO do it.

We shall not name the coffee shop. Suffice to say that it is one of the large local coffee shop chains that has been around for a while. Currently they run a promotion – a “Service Excellence Campaign”: Provide feedback about your coffee shop experience and get a free white coffee. Sound great – doesn’t’ it? Everybody loves to give feedback, specifically if the experience has been less than pleasant.

If we are not satisfied with our customer experience, there are 2 options:

  • We don’t say anything and just never come back. The business lost a customer and will never know why. OR
  • We complain about our experience to the manager. Now the business has a chance to rectify the situation, to improve, and to potentially even win the customer back

Hence we should reward customers that provide feedback, as this allows us to know our shortfalls and improve our business.  And a free white coffee sounds great.

Now this is where the problem is: In order to get your free coffee, you have to fill out the feedback form and provide your details, such as name, e-mail and telephone number. You then pass this information to the manager of the specific store. Apparently (based on the terms and conditions indicated on the feedback form) you will then receive an e-voucher for your white coffee.

However: this voucher for the “free” white coffee is

–       only valid in the store that you provided the feedback for

–       only valid for one month

–       and can only  be redeemed with a minimum purchase (excluding drinking water!).

Now why in the world would I tell the manager that I had a bad customer experience, give him my explicit contact details, then wait for an e-mail with a voucher, be forced to go back to the same store and spend some more money, just so that I can get a free coffee?

In my opinion, this just doesn’t make any sense.

Hence I didn’t even bother to provide any feedback at all.  In this instance it would have been much better for this specific kopi tiam place to just provide an anonymous feedback form without the free drink – at least then I would have told them what’s wrong.

Ideally what they should have done is to give the free coffee straight away at the time when they receive the feedback form – as a real appreciation to those customers providing valuable information to the business, which can then be used to improve the customer experience.

My advice to this coffee shop (and to others planning similar campaigns): Think through the whole process of collecting customer feedback from the point of the customer, before implementing such feedback processes.