A key to customer satisfaction
Slow to promise, quick to deliver
This maxim reminds us to evaluate our ability to deliver something before we make a commitment to someone. Committing to something and then failing to deliver can damage both relationships and reputation. It’s an easy trap to fall in to: someone asks for something to be done and we commit to getting it done before properly understanding the magnitude or scope of the task. Then we fail to deliver despite a Herculean effort. And despite our effort we’ve left the person disappointed.
One of the reasons many of us fall victim to this maxim is that we simply respond too quickly when asked if we can do something. We don’t always take the time to properly and thoroughly understand what is being asked for (sometimes the person asking is not even aware of the true requirements). Try to train yourself to slow down your response and ask more questions to determine the scope and complexity of a request before making commitments. Another thing to be careful of is unnecessarily raising the bar when no one has asked you to do so. Be aware of what is expected of you but be careful you don’t promise the moon and then under deliver. In these cases you are often better to under-promise and over deliver (even though the end result could be identical).
Once people lock in a commitment, delivery is measured to that commitment. But there is often more flexibility in the requirement than people realize. People are always disappointed if you don’t live up to a commitment, and they are always thrilled if you beat it. It’s therefore important that you manage expectations whenever possible so that you are more likely to thrill them, rather than disappoint them.