What is the ultimate secret to keeping your customers and clients happy?

Providing a fantastic product or service?

Offering stellar customer service?

Adding value at every opportunity?

No, no, and no.

While these are all great practices and should be part of your operation, there is an even more important step that ensures that your customer and clients will be thrilled with your business.

It’s simple: under-promise, over-deliver.

Otherwise referred to as “expectation management”, the concept is simple… but rarely practiced by businesses, large or small. Under-promise, over-deliver simply means managing your customer’s expectations… so that you are able to exceed their expectations, rather than simply meeting them, or falling short.

How can you put this into practice? Below are several examples, but the opportunities to utilize this principle are infinite!

Deadlines. If you’ve shipped a product and expect it to arrive on Wednesday, tell your customer that it will be there on Friday. If there is a delay, you won’t have to deal with a disappointed customer, because you’ve built in some cushion. And if it is early, your customer enjoys a “WOW!” moment, because, these days, how often does a business get things done ahead of schedule?

Marketing Promises. Obviously, you need to highlight the benefits of your products and services in order to make the sale. However, there is a balancing act to be observed, because too much marketing hype will lead to disappointed customers. Work to effectively market your business, but without creating false expectations. When you achieve this balance, your marketing efforts will sell your products and services, yet the deliverables will exceed expectations. The result? Thrilled customers who become raving fans of your business!

Service. When a customer calls with a complaint or question that requires a callback from you, over-estimate your response time. If you’re going to be able to respond within an hour, tell the customer you’ll get back to them within four hours. If it’s going to take a day, tell them it will take two days. Most of us have been on the other end of a customer service nightmare, such as a cable company stating that their technician will be out to service your line on Tuesday, and not showing up until Thursday… etc. Don’t do this to your customers! Manage their expectations throughout the service process and the end result will be surprised and delighted customers.

As I said earlier, this principle can be applied in many different ways, depending on the nature of your business. But the bottom line is simple: manage the expectations of your customers, so that the products and services that you provide go above and beyond what they expect. It’s a simple psychological trick that will have a big impact on the way that your customers perceive your business.

Do you stick to the under promise, over deliver philosophy in your business? How, specifically? We’d love to hear about your experience, so leave a comment below!