How good are you at keeping your promises?
There is nothing more corrosive in business development than broken promises. Promise a customer or client something and guess what? They’ll believe you. Tell them that they will get a call back, or a delivery by a specific time or that you will have completed certain tasks by the end of the week and they will psychologically hold you to it.
Promise to throw in something small as a gesture of doing business with you and if it doesn’t happen, they will have an innate and deep sense of being let down. Confidence, trust and reliability are amongst the key things that will impress an existing or a potential customer or client. Never underestimate how damaging a tiny promise that is not kept can be. Here are three simple examples I have encountered or been told about in the last couple of weeks:
Friends of ours went on their first cruise recently … they were both celebrating something special. When the booking agents heard about this, they promised our friends a celebratory cake on board. Although this was a very minor issue in the grand scale of things, when no cake materialised they were disappointed. Actually, they said it was no big deal, but it was obvious they had taken this promise seriously.
A subscriber to the ‘Financial TImes Guide To Business Development’ blog told me a few days ago how he had spoken to the manager of an organisation with a complaint. She had dealt with it well, promised to look in to it and get back to him the following day to see if things had been resolved. You can of course guess what happened … absolutely nothing. When the person you are complaining to, fails to keep their promises, it speaks volumes about the business.
A client of a law firm, told me how a partner had promised certain documentation by a specific date. Again, no documentation materialised and there was no contact from the firm about it at all.
How is all this a business development issue? Simple … if a customer or client loses their trust in your business or its people, then your relationship with them is damaged. People will hesitate to do business with you in the future and they will also tell as many people as they can how unreliable you are.
So with these thoughts in mind here are four simple rules to follow when it comes to promises:
Be honest – Only make a promise when you are 100% certain that in the normal course of events it can be kept.
Communicate when you can’t keep your promise – Life will throw the unexpected at you and even with the best of intentions, things will crop up which get in your way. When this happens instantly get in touch with the customer and let them know what is happening. If for example, you can’t get documentation to a particular client by the time or date promised, a message or phone call from you, or at least your staff to let the client know is much better than simply not doing anything.
Apologise – Don’t make excuses … simply be lavish and sincere in your apology.
Make a gesture – Words come easy, so offer something tangible as a gesture to reflect the fact that you want to do everything possible to re-build a good relationship.
If you do all of these things you will minimise the potential damage and in many cases you can turn the negative word of mouth into positive comments about you.
Any broken promises stories? Please share?