Why You Shouldn’t Under Promise and Over Deliver

“Under promise and over deliver,” so goes the age-old business adage. You must have heard of this saying a hundred times from CEO’s, entrepreneurs and small business owners who hope to exceed their customer’s expectations. To what end? In the hope of gaining the customer’s trust, recognition, and repeated business.

This well-known approach of providing excellent customer service encourages businesses to go above and beyond what clients expect. After all, exceptional customer service is one the key elements of running a successful business.

When you underpromise and overdeliver, you aim to impress your clients by doing more than what you said you would. You either complete a project ahead of schedule or you deliver more value than what you initially promised. All these efforts will pay off once your client recognises the “over-delivery”.

I urge you to challenge this widely-accepted belief.

Consider for a moment how under promising and over delivering could potentially hinder your brand and hamper your business growth.

Try to think how often you set a deadline for a task or project, estimating that you can get it done sooner, only to find that you are struggling to deliver on the promise.

Or perhaps, you let other tasks get pushed or take priority so you fail to meet the deadline you have set. Try as you might, it’s not easy to avoid this common pitfall: thinking you still have plenty of time to complete the under promised task. It goes without saying that if you break a promise, you also lose the wow factor of “over delivery”.

Further, ask yourself if your efforts to over deliver are truly worth it.  Do your clients notice or appreciate when you complete something by Thursday afternoon after telling them it would be done by Friday? You said BY Friday, and you delivered. Your clients were happy that the job was done. But have you impressed them?

In an alternate scenario, you tell the customer that you can do X and Y. And then, you have actually delivered X, Y, and Z. Your customer is likely grateful that you did as you said you would. Perhaps they will gladly take the additional service. At the same time, the customers might be also wondering, if you had finished more than the two items you promised, you might have completed them sooner.

Think of the alternative

Here’s a challenge for you: in the competitive environment we are faced with today, you are far better off promising what you know you can deliver when you can deliver it, and fulfilling that promise.

You will have far more success in business if you set out to wow your customers from the beginning by promising what you can actually deliver (x, y and z) and do so on schedule. After all, generosity in business dealings is not exactly valued as many of us would expect.

Concentrate your efforts on maintaining a good reputation among your clients. Only promise a schedule, service, or level of quality that you can actually deliver.

Over to you: Do you habitually exceed your customer’s expectations? Or do you focus more on keeping your commitments? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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