Underpromise and overdeliver

28May09

If you’ve worked in any sort of customer-facing role within an organization, you’re probably familiar with the saying “underpromise and overdeliver”. In other words, set very modest expectations upfront so that you can consistently exceed those expectations in the end.

One of the easiest ways to implement this approach revolves around delivery dates. For example, if most deliveries take 3-5 days, you might tell customers to expect the product in seven days. Virtually every order will arrive ahead of the stated schedule, creating a pleasant surprise for the buyer.

All of this is common knowledge, but I wanted to touch upon a nuance that people often forget. When dealing with dates, terms like “by” or “on” can be ambiguous. Does “you’ll have the proposal by Friday” mean they’ll get it by first thing Friday morning? Or maybe it refers to close of business Friday? And in which time zone? Clearly, this can get confusing quickly. So as a rule, be sure to fulfill your promises before the start of the date you provide. That way, no matter what assumptions your customers may make about the exact delivery time, you’ll be in the clear.



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