Promises — what do promises mean to your customers … your employees? In this season of political campaign promises, what do promises mean to constituents?
To most of us, a promise is like a guarantee — almost like a contract. Unfortunately, we’re all used to campaign promises that seem to mean nothing. We’ve been lied to by politicians so many times, we don’t even really expect them to keep their promises anymore. Maybe that’s why President Obama’s approval ratings have dropped so low — people thought he would be different and keep his promises.
Promises to Customers
While we might be willing to accept broken promises from politicians, we don’t seem willing to make the same concessions to companies we do business with. And we have several options when we don’t think a company has kept its promises. We can:
- File a lawsuit claiming the company didn’t keep its promises
- Complain to management, the media, or other consumers
- Return products we feel don’t live up to their promises
- Boycott the offending firm
- Stop buying products or services from firms who fail to keep their promises
- Retaliate against offending firms
The important thing is these actions damage the brand and can have a serious impact on firm profitability. Thus, promises and keeping your promises are important.
Puffery – refers to an exaggeration or statement that no reasonable person would take as factual. It often occurs in the context of advertsing and promotional testimonials, according to USLegal.
While legal, puffery has a high piss-off quotient (the percentage of people seriously dissatisfied with your brand). I feel piss-off quotient is a more serious issue in marketing strategy than is satisfaction index. This is because dissatisfied customers leave, while satisfied customers may also leave to find newer or different experiences.
Companies may not intend to break promises. They just over-promise — either explicitly in their advertising or implicitly by the images they use or comparisons they make.
One of the easiest way to keep promises is to only promise what you are sure you can deliver consistently. When you keep your promises, customers will likely be satisfied.
An alternative is to under-promise. When a company under-promises, customers are thrilled with their experience with the brand and are not only satisfied with the product, they may be delighted.
According to Roy Posner, customer delight comes from:
understanding customers specific personal interests, anticipating their needs, exceeding their expectations, and making every moment and aspect of the relationship a pleasant — or better yet, an exhilarating — experience.
Tomorrow, we’ll discuss specific steps to create customer delight, since its a little more complicated than simply under-promising.
The Marketing Strategy of Keeping Promises
- Carefully review your advertising from a customer perspective to make sure you’re not over-promising
- Review your manufacturing processes to make sure they conform to zero defect standards
- Develop service standards that ensure services are delivered with consistently high quality