Why We Need To Promise Carefully And Exceed People’s Expectations

What promises do you make?

If you read my blog regularly you will know that I’m not one to moan about businesses or people in general. People are human, businesses make mistake, there’s plenty more to focus on. Move on.

But over the last few days, I’ve been suitably impressed and unimpressed by two companies. It’s reminded me of some good principles.

In the blue corner: Equifax.
As someone who was previously bankrupt, restoring my credit score is important. So I signed up for my ‘Free Credit Report’ after an advert in my gmail account. I only later discovered it wasn’t free but carried a monthly cost of £9.95 after 30 days.

I generally sign up for online products all the time, am pretty savvy, but for some reason I felt a little stung. It’s my fault- I clearly overlooked looking in detail at the costs. It’s likely I was multi-tasking and probably on a call (providing further proof that multi-tasking can be a waste of time).

I was lulled in by ‘Free’ in ‘Free Credit Report’ and the trademark they’d attached to those words. What it should have said was: ‘Free Credit Report for 30 Days and Then it’s a Fully Paid £10 a Month Credit Report’. That would have been clear to me and my expectations would then be realistic. But they went for more persuasive (aka misleading) sales copy. Out of principle, I’ve asked for a refund and I’m unlikely to get it, but this experience will remind me again to go slower and look deeper. For a tenner it’s a good lesson to have. But if Equifax had handled me well, I would have been a paying customer for the next couple of years.

In the red corner: Slideshare
I had the opposite experience with Slideshare. Slideshare is a website that enables you to show slide presentations of your talks or upload learning materials. It’s great – check out the thousands of thought leaders on Slideshare. I’ve been a member for a number of years, but a while back I signed up to the Pro account to give the extra features a go. Mid way through my first month, I decided to cancel the pro account as I wasn’t getting the traffic to merit the cost, and I didn’t have the capacity to be fully engaged in the platform.

Then I was pleasantly surprised.

Following my cancellation of the service, I was asked if I wanted to take advantage of the free trial and get my money back. I hadn’t been aware that I’d signed up for a free trial. I didn’t even know it existed- but here they were, wanting to throw money at me after I walked away. I gratefully accepted and have had a warm glow towards them ever since.

Of course Slideshare delivered a knock-out blow and when the time is right I’ll be walking back towards them. I wont with Equifax.

In both cases their offers will have been written on their websites, in smaller fonts, lower down the page or under FAQs. And I feel a bit of a ‘Chump’ not looking in more detail. But having worked in marketing for years, I’m aware that both firms will have thought very clearly about the sales process, and will have laid out the pages to influence me to look at what was important to them. Sadly, in Equifax’s case their marketing shows they were more interested in the quick sale as opposed to the long term client.

It reminded me of two things:
1. ‘Good products/services don’t need to be sold solely on price’. If the product or service is good enough, it will sell. If we have to use fancy tricks to sell it, then it needs more work.

2. It’s important to ‘Promise Carefully And Exceed Expectations’. As Sean McPheat points, forget Under Promising And Over Delivering in business.

By ‘Promising Carefully’, we’re not over-extending or under-selling our value. But we still then need to knock it out of the park. And this should be applied beyond our work, beyond our business, beyond our ‘roles’. Don’t you love it when a friend exceeds your expectations (and not because you simply had no expectations of them)!

If we find it hard to be consistent in delivering our promises, do we need to lighten our workload, and focus on the things that are really important to us, so we’re not stretched too thin?

I didn’t ‘Promise Carefully’ in the latter stages of my first business, and it cost me dearly. I’ve worked hard to promise carefully and exceed professional expectations ever since. I’m currently not exceeding expectations when it comes to exercise. And it’s costing me dearly- not only do I look like a chubba and feel sluggish; would you want to get coaching from someone who can’t get on top of his weight? I need to make room and give that the attention it deserves.

It’s a lot harder to re-establish trust once you’ve lost it.

What promises do you need to exceed expectations on? How will you give it the intentionality it deserves. Please start by gathering your thoughts and leaving a comment below. I’d love to chat further with you and be your cheer leader!


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