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Home / Career Tips

Four promises you shouldn’t make to customers

 While a business might suceed in the short run, making false promises is likely to back fire in the lng term (Image: Shutterstock)

Part of business is making promises to your customers. But while it is easy to make promises, keeping them is what sets a good company apart from the rest.

Unfortunately, many businesses have the habit of making false promises to their customers, especially in their advertising and marketing plans.

While a business might succeed in the short run, making false promises is likely to back fire in the long term. Your customers will feel lied to and let down, which will only lead to dissatisfaction and distrust in the long term.

Other than simply going to your competitor, unhappy customers are likely to leave bad reviews online – which makes converting new leads even more difficult.

Unhappy customers will also spread the word of your unethical business practices to people in their circle. According to a 2017 study by American Express, customers who have a bad customer experience tell an average of 15 people.

This means that a broken promise to one customer can alienate 15 potential customers from your brand. Tragic, right? Its, therefore, best to avoid making false claims and promises if you want to build brand loyalty.

That doesn’t mean that you should stop making promises to your customers. It only means that you should only make promises that you can deliver on.

Keeping your promises to customers is one of the simplest ways to create trust and loyalty in your brand. As a smart business owner, you already know that loyal customers are the bread and butter that keeps your business profitable.

With that in mind, let’s explore some common kinds of promises you should avoid making to your customers.

Setting unrealistic standards

Every entrepreneur believes they can deliver high-quality products or services. But this doesn’t mean it’s okay to set unrealistic standards that you know you won’t be able to meat. Aim to under-promise and over-deliver, never the opposite.

For example, don’t promise a customer that a product will be delivered within 24 hours, or that they’ll increase their output by 20 per cent, if you know that you can’t guarantee the promise.

It’s better to promise delivery within 48 hours and estimate that your product will boost your client’s output by 10 per cent, which are more modest and realistic promises.

Under-promising and over delivering gives you breathing space. The customer will be very happy if you manage to beat your estimates on delivery time, or impact of your product. This will help build trust and loyalty in your brand.

 Avoid making promises that are beyond your deliverables (Image: Shutterstock)

Being swayed into false promises by clients’ demands

All business owners meet their fair share of pushy clients sooner or later. Such clients can pressure you into making promises that you are not confident in delivering.

You feel that you’re backed into a corner and the only way to secure the client is by saying “yes” instead of “no” to their unrealistic expectations and requests.

For example, you know that it will take four months to deliver on a client’s project. But the client says that they’ll only sign the contract if you can deliver in two months.

This might pressurise you to agree with their demands, even though you know that you can’t possibly complete the project within that timeline.

No matter how desperate you’re to clinch a deal, avoid being pressured into making false promises. This might lead to financial losses if you’re sued or penalised for breach of contract. It also breeds mistrust in your brand.

Its best to be honest with your client, which gives them the opportunity to adjust their expectations.

Explain to the client any potential obstacles you might encounter, which may affect the timeline of delivery. That way, the blow will be softened if such obstacles actually come into play

Other than that, only take projects that you can deliver on. This will build your reputation as a reliable brand and bring you more revenue in the long run.

Making promises that rely on others’ deliverables

Let’s say you promise your client that the product they’ve ordered will arrive in two days. But you’re not sure if the shipping company will deliver your inventory in time for you to make good on your promise.

The circumstances that lead to a broken promise might be beyond your control, but to the customer, you still broke your promise.

Promising on deliverables that are beyond your control is a dangerous territory. Instead, explain to your customer when deliverables are out of your control. It’s also prudent to plan for delays when estimating timelines for deliverables.

Promising unrealistic outcomes

Did you know that Red Bull paid Sh1.46 billion ($13 million) for claiming that “Red Bull Gives You Wings”?

The misleading part was that the energy drink does not offer as much energy as advertised, since a 250ml can of Red Bull has less caffeine than a cup of coffee.

The lesson business owners can learn from this is: don’t promises unrealistically optimistic outcomes.

For example, if you ran a small advertising agency, don’t promise clients that you’ll bring them 100 new customers per month. All you can realistically promise is to increase the quantity and quality of their leads.

Bear in mind that it’s against the law to make false or exaggerated advertising claims. In Kenya, the penalty for those found guilty of false advertising is a fine of Sh1 million or a prison term of up to three years.

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