Differentiate your business by fulfilling your promises

If you’re looking for a powerful way to differentiate your company from your competitors, I have a simple suggestion: just fulfill your promises.

I know that sounds ridiculously simple, but recent experiences with companies that depend upon top-notch service to draw repeat business have convinced me that far too many organizations see promises as tactics rather than policies. That creates an opening for competitors who truly deliver what they say they will.

While writing this, I was waiting for a phone call from a service provider’s dispatcher. I need to have a rough idea of when her technician will knock on my door, because until I get that call, I can’t go anywhere. I’m more than a little frustrated since I was told I could expect that call shortly after contacting them nearly three hours ago.

I’ve used this company’s services for the last two decades, contributing hundreds of dollars to their bottom line. And when I called seeking their help again, they treated me as a complete stranger.

Another example? I needed information from a “customer service rep” at a professional service provider with whom I’ve been doing business for years. Two previous requests earlier in the week had failed to produce what I needed, so I called again about 2:00 p.m. “I will call you absolutely no later than 4:00 p.m. this afternoon,” he assured me. Why wasn’t I surprised when his reply in the form of an email arrived around 7:30 — and didn’t include all the promised information? Will his boss notice when I move my business to one of his competitors?

Add in a contractor whose call to schedule a project came three days after his promised deadline, and I’m astounded. Why? There’s never been a time when service businesses faced as much competition as they do today. In the age of Yelp, Angie’s List, and other online rating services, falling short of promises is business suicide. You’ll miss out on new customers who see bad reviews; nor will you get those all-important referrals from current customers.

I’ve talked to a lot of folks who are encountering similar situations, even from companies with which they’ve been doing business for years. Companies make all sorts of promises and don’t think twice about breaking them. You want your customers to trust you, but few things erode trust more quickly than failing to do what you said you would.