29 July 2008

Do you over promise and under deliver?

In businesses that are overly busy this point poses a challenge. In businesses not so busy, it is unforgivable. Over promising and under delivering is the best way to lose customers as it breaks every customer service rule. Firstly you are building up the customer’s expectations, probably higher than they were initially, then you not only fail to meet their expectations, you fail miserably.

It is easy to get pressured into over promising and under delivering. In my industry, everyone wants marketing advice and strategies quickly, but the reality is they take time to prepare. A rushed strategy can be flawed and the end result disastrous for the business concerned. I specifically explain this to my clients at length and I have to be careful to make sure the timeframe I quote to deliver their strategy is realistic and achievable. Once committed, I will move heaven and earth to make sure the very best quality product is delivered on time.

It is better to set a realistic timeframe, one you can achieve, than one you can’t possibly achieve, which is guaranteed to end in tears for all the parties concerned.

There are of course many other forms of over promising and under delivering. One of the most obvious is food. We have all seen sensational television advertisements promoting mouth-watering meals, filling us with expectation, only to find the end product is a shrivelled, poor impersonation of what was on the commercial. Likewise, the advertisement may spout on about how your business is valued and how staff will treat you like celebrities, but when you pick up the phone the person on the other end treats you like anything but royalty. Some of this problem is due to the distance between the marketing people and the end product. But as a marketing person I have never had a brief that said to make sure you show our burgers looking soggy and unappetising. The key here is to be honest in your representation of your product or service.

Over promise and under deliver—don’t underestimate your customers intelligence. They know when they are being treated with contempt and they will soon let you know.


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