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Designing and delivering extraordinary customer experiences

Want to discover the secrets of developing unshakable customer loyalty?  Do you over promise and over deliver or are you known for over promising and under delivering?  What about under promising and over delivery?  These are varying philosophies that can be adopted or ignored in your work life and personal life.

A recent study by behavioral scientist Ayelet Greezy and University of Chicago business professor Nicholas Epley, that was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, reported on the impact of over-delivering on your promises. The results of this study were surprising. It produced very little meaningful increase in gratitude or appreciation. In summary, doing what you say is clearly essential for maintaining your reputation but doing more doesn’t necessarily win you any additional points.

The other side of the coin, i.e. over-delivering on promises, can give you more momentum. Each time you make good on a promise you will feel more confident in your abilities. Your name becomes associated with positivity and trust. Making promises you can keep is instrumental in helping you to build and maintain any relationship in life.

A sure-fire way to lose a customer is to over-promise and under-deliver. There are things you can and cannot do, things your company can and cannot do. It is important to know the difference. It takes a strong business acumen, intense training and experience to understand the capabilities.

Many people are tempted to tell a customer they can do anything, deliver whatever they want, but it is not always possible. Communicating to a customer that you are unable to do what they want takes courage and fortitude. Business can be tough and it may be very tempting to do the easy thing up front, and that is promising the customer more than can be delivered. This can set you up for failure and cause a disaster. It will put your reputation at risk as well as your customer support team and sometimes the entire company. It is a no-win situation.

What are the reasons we make promises in the first place?

1. To create an obligation.

2. To regulate or direct behavior.

3. To reduce uncertainty.

4. To build trust.

5. To please people.

6. To appear in control.

The reasons we keep promises is easier to explain. We desire to set a foundation that builds trust and establishes relationships. We are seeking monetary rewards and/or personal fulfillment.

Vows, agreements, contracts, pledges, and guarantees are all really promises at the core. Keeping promises to yourself is a direct reflection of who you are and the love you have for self. Breaking promises is not a good practice but neither is allowing promises to break you.

Ecclesiastes 5:5 reads, “It is better not to make a promise than to make one and not keep it.”

Numbers 30:2 reads, “If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.”

Exceeding customer expectations will build a business that creates raving fans who purchase more often and share their positive experiences with others. It will move a business beyond mediocrity and result in more success and higher profits. Living up to commitments in personal relationships will be appreciated by all you come in contact with and will establish and help to maintain lasting relationships.

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.