The Problem With Under Promising And Over Delivering

Service delivery  M4B MarketingEvery day we hear or read that we should always under promise and over deliver with our customers.

While we need to delight our customers and strengthen our relationships, there are pitfalls you may not be aware of.

As an example, is when our local pizza place first opened.

They stated they would deliver within 45 minutes and had this claim on their brochures and boxes.

It was obviously a marketing tactic to get more customers.

When we first ordered a pizza it was delivered within 30 minutes, so our initial customer experience was great. We thought they cared and over delivered on their service promise.

This experience happened over the next few times we purchased.

Our expectation was that regardless of what they said the delivery time was we believed we would always get our pizza within 30 minutes.

This then became our new standard for their service delivery.

When they started to not meet this new standard and the pizzas were not as hot we became somewhat dissatisfied, especially as we were loyal customers.

One reason they didn’t meet the new service delivery standard was they were growing rapidly. Was it right of us to expect them to keep over delivering.

Probably not, however it was now what we expected.

This type of problem could occur with many small businesses, especially as you gain more customers.

There is no easy way around this. We like to delight our customers as we build new relationships and strengthen our key ones.  Having thought about this issue, I came up with a few tips for you to consider:

Get Customers

  • Identify the product or service delivery that is expected in your market and from your competitors
  • Find out your customers’ expectations
  • Over deliver in increments, start slowly at first, so you can build the expectations and experience over time.
  • Determine, if you need to over deliver to gain and keep customers.
  • Look at what technology you can use to assist in meeting the higher product or service delivery expectation

What are your thoughts about this issue and do you have tips to share?

(This is an updated post)

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12 Responses to The Problem With Under Promising And Over Delivering

  1. Patt Leger says:

    Love this topic and completely agree… (i am a culprit of this scenario)

    Another facet would like to talk about is when we over achieve and then…because our clients don’t (or won’t) recognize our “extra over the top” … we become somewhat jaded and tend to use this as the basis of our next confrontation, I mean conversations with them.

    I love your suggestions and the idea of metering out our bonuses. I have recently been working on ways to incorporate this into my strategy and so your article came at the right time. Thank you Susan & @NickKellet.

    • Hi Patt,

      You bring up an excellent point. Perhaps one reason is we make look simple and easy for them. I know when I was a client I was guilt of not understanding what they did or the extra effort that went into it. I am glad you found the article useful and best of luck with your marketing strategy.

  2. Catarina says:

    Great example of over delivering Susan. If you over deliver your suggestion of over delivering in increments is probably wise. Actually believe the best way is to be consistant. Your customers then know what to expect.
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  3. Hello Susan,

    This is a great post. To be honest, I had never thought about things that way.

    I guess that over delivering can be a trap. Businesses have to be careful to keep their standards high, if they don’t want to end up disappointing customers.

    • Hi Cendrine,

      Welcome to the blog. It is a fine line to walk as this place makes great pizzas and others have a hour delivery window. So they didn’t need to do the 30 minute delivery. I guess like all of us in business you learn as you grow.

      Thanks for commenting Cenfrine.

  4. “Over deliver in increments.” That’s great advice Susan. I certainly am guilty of over delivering and setting unrealistic expectations. Your pizza delivery analogy will stick with me. I had never really thought of this before. Thanks for the share!
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    • Hi Sherryl,

      I think most of us do and then it only leads to stress. The funny part is customers usually don’t expect it, just that it get done on time and is right. Glad you liked the analogy.

  5. I love the notion of this post but I’m yet to meet a person who set out to disappoint their customer by over promising and under delivering.
    I believe it is the uncertainty of business which often leads to these situations AND over zealous business owners who find it difficult to estimate the effort that certain things require.
    It is really hard to disappoint an expectant customer BUT it’s much easier to do that than try and rescue your reputation from a thoroughly irrate customer who has not had their expectation met.

    • Susan Oakes says:

      Hi Andee,

      You make an excellent point about being zealous. Businesses want to have happy customers and we can get caught up especially with a new business or with new customers.

      Maybe it is a case of asking and truly understanding our customers expectations, rather than assuming we know their delivery expectations.

      Thanks for your comments.

  6. Strategic Growth Advisors says:

    Thanks, Susan. This is one post all entrepreneurs — whether the online or street corner office variety — will find very timely and useful. Consistency is the key not just to keep clients from coming back but also to establish a positive name in the business environment you are active in.

    • Susan Oakes says:

      Your right and it if you look at it it can be far easier to do, rather than creating expectations that we can’t always fulfill. I think perhaps we have only looked at over delivery from only one angle. Just take the pizza example, they could over deliver by including a sample of another product every now and then eg Gelatto which would have translated into overdelivery for us.