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Under-Promise / Over-Deliver Key to Customer Satisfaction

August 28, 2012
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Posted by
Ed
Albertson
Businessman with present cartoon

In 2011 and for the second year in a row, Amazon.com (AMZN) topped the MSN Money Customer Service Hall of Fame. According to the 2011 MSN Money-Zogby poll, 50.4% of Amazon customers viewed their experience as "excellent," and 40.4% thought it was "good."Among the many factors that contribute to Amazon's success is the masterful way this company, which has very little interpersonal, human interaction with its buyers, manages to continually delight its customers by under-promising and over-delivering. Typically, the predicted delivery date of a product ordered through Amazon.com is later than the actual delivery. This observation suggests it might be Amazon policy to allow for a little extra shipping time that will likely not be needed, but will delight the customer when their product arrives earlier than expected.The key to success hinges on the term "expected," since it is always the customer's expectation that ultimately determines their level of satisfaction. Imagine how much more our customers might be delighted with our solutions (and with us) if we built in some extra variance for the inevitable delays, disappointments or other less-than-satisfactory issues that could arise despite all our best intentions. If they do occur, at least we've allowed for them. If we are fortunate enough to not have them happen, we provide a customer experience that is delightful because it exceeds the expectations we set in the first place.The concept known in psychology circles as "Prospect Theory" was originally described by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. It suggests that individuals are much more upset by prospective losses than they are pleased by equivalent gains. In other words, the loss of $100 would be twice as painful as the pleasure received from a $100 gain. Given those odds, one way we can strengthen our credibility and our relationships with our customers is to mitigate the perception of loss by setting expectations that allow some margin of shortcoming (ie. the Amazon shipping example) and then we benefit from increasing our customer's delight by exceeding those expectations.In our quest for the role of trusted business advisor, isn't it in our best interest to be known as the person who consistently exceeds expectations, whether it be relative to quality or timing?Under-promise and over-deliver – another opportunity to make deposits in the relationship bank and set the stage for short and long term success!--As part of our ongoing commitment to professional development, Carew International publishes a regular blog to provide timely insights for optimal sales performance. To learn more about Carew's incomparable sales training programs, sales leadership training and customer service training, visit our website at www.carew.com.