Making Promises Without Thinking
Back when every client was a “new” client, I occasionally got caught up in the spirit of doing what I loved with people I like. In quest to give them an outstanding experience, I’d make a promise without thinking about it and fall down when I tried to keep it. Eventually, I learned to think through what I say I can do.
Most of what I’ve learned, I’ve learned by doing something wrong.
I don’t recommend that tactic. Falling down hurts. Falling down on the job often injures customer relationships.
Still doing things wrong it’s a powerful way to learn.
I got a reminder of that this week, when I received an email from a hotel confirming my online reservation.
Be Sure You Can Keep ehe Promises You Make
A fundamental key to credibility and influence is keeping promises. None of us wants to make promises we can’t keep. Broken promises lead to disappointment and disappointment leads to loss of trust. It might be easy enough to catch ourselves when we offer what we can’t deliver. But sometimes we make subtle promises we can’t keep without knowing it. Or can we.
Does your business make promises you can’t keep?
I’m willing to bet this company thinks not too.
The promise was simple.
It’s described in this email.
I got this email yesterday from a hotel where I’ll be staying soon. Because I’m waiting to tell them in person when I stay at the hotel, I’ve removed the identifiers from the email. That’s only fair.
We look forward to serving you during your upcoming stay at the XXXX Hotel. If we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to reply to this e-mail or contact us at 416-XXX-XXXX.
The XXXX Hotel Team
As it turned out, I had a simple 5-word question regarding the hotel.
I replied to the email with my question. Minutes later I received an email that said
Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:
The email made an offer, a promise of service, that I didn’t expect.
I spent time writing an email back.
When I did, they couldn’t deliver on the promise.
I was disappointed.
I know how technology works.
I know that sometimes this happens to everyone.
Perhaps that’s what happened here.
Another story that happened the next day.
I was in a nice department store. It was also a first contact with the business. The sales associate was firmly focused on helping me find boots to fit my hard-fit-feet.
When I got to some that seemed to fit (if the boots stretched just a little), I asked if they had this boot a 1/2 larger, so that I could check that fit against the ones I had on.
She said, “No, I could order them. Wait a minute …” She left for a moment. Then she returned to say that she’d the manager for permission to have a stock person check the ladder-high shelves of unopened shipments to find the boots in my size.
In a great example of service, the manager came over and said we would have to wait for a stock associate to come over from another department. He said, “Can we get you some water and perhaps buy you lunch? This might take some time.”
I asked ‘Are you sure that my size will be in those boxes?”
He said, “Yes, the associate checked the store inventory.” Then in a moment of clarity. He said, “Let me be sure of that.” He approached the associate and after their conversation, the associate returned to say that they didn’t have my size.
Broken promise averted. My time wasn’t spent.
The offer to check the stock WAY up was a subtle promise that I didn’t expect.
The manager investigated before he made a promise.
The undeliverable promise wasn’t made.
I was delighted that they’d tried on my behalf.
Does Your Business Make subtle Promises You Can’t Keep?
Great and growing businesses want to do well for customers. They know that customers are what keep them great and growing. But the first incident has left me wondering if that business lives up to their aspiration of service while the second lets me know that when they say something they mean it.
I was disappointed with the first.
I was delighted with the second.
That’s the ROI of being thoughtful about the promises we make.
How do you make sure your business isn’t making subtle promises you can’t keep?
Keep every subtle promise you make this week.
Keeping promises is irresistible.
–ME “Liz” Strauss