Making promises you can’t keep is a cardinal sin. It is one of the biggest mistakes people make in business, and yet it is rife!
“The project will be completed by the end of the month.” “I will make payment today.” “I will come back to you with an answer by Tuesday.” “My forecast is that I will hit my sales target this month.” “I guarantee a return on investment.” “Our turnaround time is within 24 hours.” “This will solve your problem.” There are hundreds of examples in everyday business conversation where promises are made to colleagues and customers that are unlikely to materialise.
Everyone is subjected to promises that are not kept. We all experience the frustration of being on the receiving end, yet we underrate it and allow it to creep into our business operations.
Here’s how overpromising affects the values and reputation of your business:
Remember, perceptions of customer service are based on meeting expectations. Meeting expectations is the bare minimum a company should strive for. When you over promise and under deliver, you fall short of your customers’ expectations and you disappoint. And when you disappoint, your reputation suffers, and you lose customers. On the flip side, if you under promise and over deliver, you delight your customers, surprise them, and keep them coming back for more.
When you don’t deliver on a promise your team, customers and suppliers lose faith and trust in you. No relationship can survive without trust. Furthermore, no business survives without relationships. If they can’t believe what you say, and if you are not true to your word, they will start looking elsewhere. Your customers will leave. You will be overlooked for promotion. You will lose respect. Therefore, by making good on your promises, you build trust, reliability, dependability and respect.
Over promising is simply sabotaging your own success. When you promise the world, you set yourself up for failure. If you can’t achieve what you promised, if you miss your target or deadline, you have not performed. Quite simply, you have failed! And no one wants to work with underachievers who fail! Only commit to tasks and deadlines that are realistic, feasible, achievable, and then bask in the glory of achieving and exceeding it.
Many businesses and individuals use over-promising is a tactic to secure new business, sales or a new job position. Decisions to recruit, to buy or enter into a business relationship are often made on the marketing and selling of the benefits of the person, product or service. If you fail to deliver on those promises, you are dishonest. Basically, you lied to secure the situation and your integrity goes out the window. Sometimes being honest about your capacity and capability can win you more brownie points than overstating what’s possible.
Sometimes life happens! There are many legitimate reasons why you may fail to meet a commitment or deliver on a promise. They key here is communication. Rather than leaving the customer or colleague to notice they have been let down, it is advisable to communicate that the promise is not likely to be kept, and to apologise and make good for it. Generally people are not unreasonable. Damage can be minimised when the lines of communication are open and you realign expectations. As long as you are not a repeat offender!
Making promises is great. A promise creates obligation. It regulates and directs behavior. It creates focus and reduces uncertainty. In addition, it gives you a foundation on which to build trust.
Making or breaking promises is habitual. Are you in the habit of making or breaking promises? And could this be the one small tactic that makes or breaks your business?
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