There is s a great American saying used to describe a failure. It’s often used to describe how an individual performs, as in “He is a day late and a dollar short”.
The English equivalent is “Too little, too late”
The business lesson is directly connected to expectations.
If your customer expects a delivery on Wednesday and you don’t deliver until Thursday, in your customers’ eyes you are a day late, even if you always planned to deliver on Thursday.
In the same way, if your customer thinks that you will do more than you think you are going to do you will come up a dollar short!
I am sure you don’t set out to be a day late and a dollar short – who would?
You can avoid that by making sure you have a solid grasp of your customer expectations at the start of the relationship. If it is a complex service or project, map out the steps of the project and assign responsibilities. Often, with complex projects, you as the supplier cannot make progress until the customer has completed a task, but if that dependency is not clearly stated guess who will get the blame!
If it is a customer complaint, time is of the essence. If you can get back to your customer quickly – even if it is just to say “we’re working on it” – that can alleviate some of the perception.
The other side of the coin is how you can turn your customers into raving fans.
Under promise and over deliver is a frequently heard truism, but the over-delivery has to be managed. There’s no point over delivering if what you are adding are things the customer does not want / need or value.
The crucial steps are to understand (and manage) your customers’ expectations, work out what is really important to them and then over-deliver in that area.