Under Promise and Over Deliver – In Marketing, Business, and Life

Under Promise and Over Deliver – In Marketing, Business, and Life

I don't know about you, but doing business with a company that provides excellent value and superior customer service, is something I really appreciate and enjoy. One of the simplest things companies can do is to under promise something, but over deliver on that promise.

Can you imagine the delight of the customer when they're expecting one outcome, but get something pleasant entirely outside of their expectations?

For instance, a printing company I use for catalog work always says that the catalogs will be delivered by X date, usually a few weeks out from the time they receive the files. More often than not, the books are delivered early, thrilling my bosses. It's one of those “don't trip on your cape because you're super” experiences.

Right out of the “Expectations Management” playbook, this technique is a winner for building customer confidence and loyalty. Another company that has perfected this practice is Amazon. Ever notice how after you place an order, they provide an estimated delivery date? Your circumstances may be different from mine, but most of my Amazon orders come well in advance of the delivery window they provide. In this age of needing instant gratification, I'm pretty happy when I receive my order early.

Here are some other ways to under promise and over deliver:

  • A customer buys something, include a “free” gift with purchase. Something they're not expecting, but adds value to what they've bought. It could be a digital “handout” or something physical. 
  • A handwritten thank you – I purchased something from a mom and pop shop a while back and on the invoice they included with the shipment, they hand wrote a note:

Jarrod – Thanks for your Business! It's very much appreciated. All my best, Store Owner.

  • When providing a deadline, add a little padding. Don't be unrealistic and say something that will take a few weeks to complete will take two months to finish. The expectation needs to mesh with some sort of reality. And you want to be as accurate as possible while providing yourself a little leeway. 
  • Your word is your bond. If you say you're going to do something, by all means do it!
  • Remember little details. Anything you can add to a relationship / or your business by remembering the little things can only improve your reputation. Imagine if you knew a customer's anniversary and sent them a little something as a congratulations. That would be huge.
  • Make them look good. Anything you can do to make your customer feel good, or a client look good to their bosses strengthens their relationship with you.
Satisfied customers will tell others.

photo credit: Frank Gruber via photopin cc

From a marketing perspective, I've had business partners go out of their way to surprise me with added value. As an example, I've done business with a number of radio stations over the years and have built some great relationships with the reps from those stations. More often than not, if the station had unsold inventory, they would run my commercials for free, giving me added value that was quite unexpected.

How likely do you think I was to renew my contract with the stations that provided me bonus spots? While I didn't expect it, those bonuses were awesome and gave me added incentive to continue to advertise on those stations. They provided value over and above what we contracted for, which only expands my marketing budget and ROI.

Customer service shouldn't be hard. Strengthening relationships shouldn't be difficult either. Using any of the techniques I mentioned above, you're bound to create stronger relationships and return customers who may become advocates for your business. Under promising and over delivering is one of the easiest things we can do because a lot of times it doesn't cost much (if anything) to do it successfully.

Disclosure of Material Connection

Some of the links in the post above may be affiliate links. This means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a modest commission from the sale. These links help support the maintenance of this website.


Please be advised that I only recommend products or services that I have used or tried personally and believe will add value to my readers' lives. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”