Why You Should Under Promise and Over Deliver to the Customer


Have you ever watched a high jumper fail? Bringing the bar down with him? This is what high promises does for your business. I have seen this company slogan: “We offer world class service.” I do not need world class service but if I need their services I will expect something special. This is what it’s all about – expectations.

What Will Under Promise do?

You will lower the customers’ expectations. You’ll lay the bar at a few feet, you look unfit, and you might end up passing the bar with several feet clearance. Customer Service is all about expectations and how you meet them. Remember going to the movie theater with high expectations? The movie might have been good, but you would still be a little disappointed. An unknown foreign movie might knock your socks off, and you did not see it coming.

Don’t Confuse Lowering Expectations with Lowering Ambitions!

There is a huge difference between wanting to be the best and make customer expect you to be the best. The trick is to get the customers to expect above average or even good and still deliver first class. You should have high ambitions in customer satisfaction. You can rate a luxury hotel nine out of ten because they forgot chocolate on your pillow and at the same time rate a forest cabin ten out of ten because they had running water. I want to quote a friend and former co-worker, as he once said: “it is not about jumping to the customers flute, it is all about exceeding expectations, so start by lowering them” – he worked as tech support at a call center. When customers called he started complaining about this difficult solution and talked about sending people out to fix stuff, it might take days; before he pushed the “magic button” and restarted the equipment and it all worked. The customers were thrilled when they realized the internet was working again. Why? Because they got an image of days offline! This method should not be used unless you are very confident and have the right personality, but it works as a point.

How do You Over Deliver?

I buy books online. Since I live in Norway and buy from all over the world standard shipping might be 18-20 days. One company has 18-20 days and I always get the books in about two weeks and I am a happy customer. About ten years ago I was selling household articles like washers, refrigerators and so on. We used to deliver for free, excellent service but exploited. We decided to charge for delivery and made a price list depending on distance. I bought boxes of chocolate and left it at the top of the product or in the fridge with a handwritten note saying thank you. This was never expected until they became returning customers. But one delivery paid for five boxes, and it made them jump in joy. So the little irritation for paying for delivery was forgotten and we jumped the bar.

But Why do we Over Promise?

We don’t want to disappoint the customer face to face. It is easier to apologize afterward. In larger companies there might be others that need to do the apologizing. If your customer needs what you got by tomorrow and YOU KNOW that you will fail, walk away from the deal. Say that you are sorry but that is not possible. Most customers don’t have a database of competing providers that can meet their expectations. And if competition over promise… you will be the honest one. It is better to disappoint the customer right away instead of producing a crisis tomorrow.

Don’t be afraid of losing business, in the long run you will be the one that promise and over deliver. The customer will adjust to your delivery time and plan ahead. It is allowed to say: If I promise you this, I know I will fail. Custom Baseball Socks