The phrase “under promise over deliver” has become a popular business principle, because it is better not to promise something to your customer that you cannot keep than to under promise and to surprise your customer with good service. So how can this not be good?
Well, there is some truth in “under promise over deliver,” but this principle does not apply to all possible scenarios. For example, if a recurring customer gets used to work done (or items ordered) earlier than promised, he/she might think that you could deliver earlier in the future or that not all the work needed was done after all. The net result is that your customer’s expectation over time will shift to over-expectancy. This will put more pressure on your delivery, and a situation may result where there is a conflict of expectation. And that is good for no one.
One alternative would be to try and promise spot-on. Ideally this might work, but despite the fact that this is very difficult to do in some business models, this puts more pressure on your service levels in your company, and might lead to higher stress levels, especially if you are co-dependent on external parties (eg suppliers, subcontractors). If you fail to deliver on time, you might have an unhappy client.
– A much better strategy is to try not to make promises at allor to make more “tentative” or “relative” promises.
Eg “I will do my best to deliver on Monday” or “It normally takes two working days” or “If my supplier delivers on time it should be here by tomorrow.”
In my experience the following additional business principles are good to keep in mind:
– Honesty. Tell your client the truth in all circumstances. In this way you equalize expectations and take off pressure from yourself. If something goes wrong, then your side is clean (and you can sleep at night).
– Transparency. Give your customers enough details that they can understand how the process works or which procedures are followed in delivering the service. Clients want to know what they are paying for.
– Consistency. Explain your company procedure to your clients. Try and keep with these procedures and try to treat all customers equally. Loyal customers may have a higher priority, but this principle may fit into a bigger picture of consistent procedure. Making too many exceptions may put more pressure on your business, or create uneven expectations. This will also help you to know when to say “no” without being nasty or compromising on your level of service.