We know we need to keep clients and customers happy. But sometimes we commit to unrealistic deadlines, which can cause us to let them down. So instead of over promising and under delivering, why not build the opposite into your business practices? Build customer delight and loyalty by under promising and over delivering.
Here are some ideas to get you on your way.
What’s the customer’s real deadline?
Sometimes we assume customers’ deadlines. We project when we think they’ll need our product, service or action by and cause unnecessary business stress in the process. So ask the customer for their deadline from the outset. You may find there’s more time available. And if the timescale is tight for you, be honest with them. Is it possible to deliver a specific part of the project, service, action etc by then with other elements being completed at a slightly later date? If so, make sure you do deliver as promised.
Prioritise by deadlines
Can you move away from a first come/first served approach – methodically processing one customer at a time depending on when they placed their order? One customer may not need your product or service so soon, where for another it’s vital right now. Keep everyone happy by putting customers’ deadlines at the heart of your processes. If some clash and cause problems for you, then talk and see if there’s any margin for moving the dates with any of them. Alternatively try sweetening things by offering a small discount or other incentive to extend the deadline. Or quickly call in reinforcements!
Be ahead of schedule
In today’s world, deadlines are more often missed than achieved. Customers are really impressed when you deliver slightly ahead of schedule. So assess the time it will take to get your product/service/ action completed and then communicate a deadline a day or so afterwards (but deliver that day early). Don’t deliver too far in advance of the deadline as customers won’t trust your word. Also, don’t always expect customers to spot that you’re ahead of schedule. Emphasise it to them, albeit subtly.
Perfect your processes
Look at the current obstacles in your business operations. What gets in the way of you delivering your promises to customers? Can more people, outsourcing, better time management, faster suppliers, project-management software or other IT applications improve your efficiency? Ask for an external viewpoint if necessary to spot ways to fine-tune your approach.
Do more than you said on the tin
Can you create added value around the product, service or action that you deliver? For example, can your report be in a format that fits easily with the client’s house style? Can you include samples or testers of complementary products when you dispatch the a customer’s bought? Can you give a voucher giving a slight discount off the next purchase or if the customer recommends a friend? A word of warning though – added value does impress, but only if the initial product or service purchased meets expectations. Get the basics right first.
The more you understand why a customer is buying this service or product from you, the more chances you’ve got to tick their boxes and delight them. What issue are they trying to resolve? What need are they hoping to satisfy? What other factors pivot around this purchase? If you can find these out, then ways in which to under promise and over deliver will become clear. And you can look forward to a happy future built on this customer’s pleasure and loyalty.
About the Author:
Michelle Daniels is the Managing Director of Extended Thinking. An experienced and effective business development and marketing strategist, Michelle has built a successful career increasing top line growth for service businesses and organisations. She helps her clients turn their marketing, business development and thought leadership plans into reality with her ‘hands on’ support and practical advice. A prolific writer, Michelle also combines creative flair with business nous to produce highly effective results. She has written (and ghost-written) for many professional and business publications and is a chartered marketer and member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
Extended Thinking is a hands-on marketing and business development consultancy. Bringing together great minds and great ‘doers’, we help our clients devise and implement plans that achieve real business growth. Our clients come from a wide variety of backgrounds and sectors, but invariably are those who are too busy or lack the resources to action their marketing and business development plans. We roll our sleeves up and muck in to free them up to do what they really want to do and are good at doing.
For more visit: www.extendedthinking.com