Broken promises – the newest addiction in customer service?

I have a hot button. But, maybe it’s just me. Maybe I blow things way out of proportion. But, my latest pet peeve is about people in service industries who don’t do what they say they will—people who simply don’t fulfill promises made to their customers.

The Verizon representative who promises to call you back in 10 minutes. He never does. The cable installer who promises that her manager will definitely call broken promiseyou today.  You never hear back from either of them. The Toastmaster who promises—out loud and in front of 19 other members—to give a speech on Friday and never shows up. The contractor who promises your windows will be ready on Monday at 3pm, yet doesn’t deliver, call, email or even answer his phone when your try to call.

I can understand and forgive one bad occurrence of promising and not following up. But, when it happens repeatedly, I lose respect for the offending company or individual. And, I lose the trust that they will EVER follow through on a promise. And I WILL take my business elsewhere because, to me, this repeated behavior is beyond frustrating and simply unacceptable!

My father was a police officer for more than 45 years. He was well respected for being honorable. And, a big part of his reputation was based on the fact that he always kept his word. As a result, my father was admired for being dependable, a man of high integrity and great character. If he said he would do something, he did it. Period.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all service companies and their representatives shared this work ethic? I bet we’d all have a lot less to complain about and, therefore, we’d be a lot less stressed.

Strategies that Turn it Around:

  1. Don’t make a promise that you can’t possibly deliver.
  2. When you honestly make a promise, follow through to make it happen.
  3. If you can’t fulfill a promise made because of unforeseen factors, call or email immediately and be honest in your communication. Apologize with sincerity, rather than place blame on others.
  4. Communicate, communicate, communicate—before, during, and after breaking a promise—to keep your customer informed and in the loop.
  5. If you find yourself breaking promises again and again, it’s time to look at the core problem. Honestly search for what the “real” problem is and take proactive steps to fix it. For example, if you’re breaking promises because you’re overextending yourself, then you need to fix how you schedule your day. If you’re breaking promises because you don’t have enough staff, then you need to do whatever is necessary to get the help that you need.

Remember: Promises kept earn loyal customers. Promises are not made to be broken. And if you or your company repeatedly breaks promises, you need to take immediate action to reveal the core problem. Then, take immediate action to fix that problem.

How do YOU feel when someone doesn’t follow through on a promise to you? Please share your experience in the comments section below.

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