You can never go wrong with under-promising, yet most businesses go the exact opposite direction and over-promise. Why is over-promising a problem? Because not fulfilling the promise can lead to dissatisfied, disappointed, and often angry customers. Needless to say, this will have a negative impact on your bottom line.
Over the years, we’ve heard many new entrepreneurs acknowledge their mistake of over-promising and under-delivering. Despite this, new businesses continue promising unreasonable benefits to customers. One reason for this could be that when you launch a new business, you want to attract potential customers as quickly as possible and you use all known strategies to do this. What you don’t realize is that some strategies are counterproductive and could have a negative impact on your business—over promising is one of them.
Why Over-Promising Is Never Good
Although not related to the business world, one of the biggest reasons that George H.W. Bush did not return to power for a second consecutive term was because he had over-promised during the campaign that got him elected in the 1988 U.S presidential election.
During the campaign for the 1988 election, the former President had promised to impose “no new taxes”. However, circumstances did not allow him to stay true to his words and he increased taxes when the country was going through a recession in 1990. Other than the Ross Perot factor, this was a major reason that resulted in George H.W. Bush losing out to Bill Clinton in the 1992 Presidential election.
The campaign and term of former President Bush should be a lesson for all entrepreneurs and business owners that they should never over-promise to customers. If you want to build trust with customers, then you must keep your promises. The best way to ensure this is by making promises that you can realistically fulfill.
If you deliver on your promises to customers, then this will help you build rapport with them which will lead to building brand loyalty. This will ultimately benefit your bottom line and business growth. On the other hand, if you repeatedly fail to deliver on your promises to customers, then this can ruin the credibility of your business for many years to come, ultimately leading to its death.
In a bid to get ahead of their competition, many businesses today over-promise almost regularly. They don’t think there’s anything wrong with over-promising and that it will not land them in trouble. Only someone who’s deluded or blind to the reality would say such a thing. Unfortunately, most entrepreneurs and business owners today fall in this category.
Let’s be honest, customers today have hundreds of choices available to them right at their fingertips. Therefore, the only thing that will make them return to your business after a first experience is delivering on the promises you made. The best way you to do is by under-promising. In a worst-case scenario, you will deliver what you promised. In a best-case scenario, you will far exceed what you promised. In other words, your chances of failure are close to zero.
How to Avoid Over-Promising
We’ve already discussed why over-promising is bad for your business. So, if you want to avoid over-promising to customers, then you must do the following 3 things.
1. Communicate to Your Customers About Their Expectations
One of the most important things for any business is communicating regularly with customers to manage their expectations.The best way to find out what customers expect from your business is to ask them. Believe us, the guessing game won’t get you anywhere. If you want to fulfill or satisfy the needs of your customers, then you must ask them about their expectations from your business at every engagement point and at every stage of your relationship with them.
If you build a habit of regularly communicating with your customers and managing their expectations actively, then you will eventually have a loyal customer base that sticks with you through both your good and bad times.
2. Keep Internal Communications Open
You must keep internal communications open to ensure that all your teams are consistently interacting with each other about what can and cannot be done. For example, if the sales team over-promise on what they can deliver, then this will put the front end or customer-service in a tricky situation after the product/service is delivered.
Similarly, the development/execution team should be honest with the sales, marketing and customer-service departments about what the product/service can realistically help the customer accomplish. This will allow them to develop a suitable strategy to market, sell to, and deal with customers in a way which gives them the upper hand over the latter.
3. Ensure Transparent Timelines
The problem with keeping deadlines hidden from customers is that sooner or later this will lead them to question your competency or truthfulness. Customers will think that you are either bad at estimating the time needed to complete a project or are being dishonest with them. Both situations are bad for your business.
If you try to keep things hidden from customers in a bid to go way above and beyond their expectations or what is reasonable, then 9 out of 10 times this will lead to trouble. While customers appreciate businesses exceeding their expectations, it won’t take them long to switch to a competitor if you fail to deliver on your promise more than a couple of times. So, instead of going for the spectacular every once in a blue moon, focus on meeting customers’ expectations every single time.
Be transparent with customers about everything that is related to the product/service they want and when they can realistically expect to get it. Also, make sure to under-promise them so that when they the product/services is delivered to them, they are at least satisfied if not delighted.
Over-promising is bad for your business and you can avoid it by following the above-given tips.
by Bobby J Davidson
We love our company and we love what we do. Check out the ‘Why Percento‘ page to learn more: Love of Technology and Business! As the President of Percento Technologies International, I provide day-to-day leadership to the company’s senior management and I am personally involved in the strategy, business development and sales activities of the firm.
The company was founded in 1999 with the purpose of providing a one call source for organizations in need of Enterprise IT Consulting and Management. We also provide a line of products in the boutique Cloud Server space with a touch of high-end website strategy consulting and design services. We personalizes the IT Service experience with a team approach, working with clients from diverse sectors of industry, including energy services, financial, legal, entertainment, healthcare, hospitality, retail and general and/or corporate business. percentotech.com/contact