In an earlier post I mentioned promises quite a bit. I wrote about the difference between being authentic and remaining authentic. Being authentic is concerned with creating, you create something that promises, remaining authentic is concerned with keeping promises. There is another layer to it that I mentioned briefly and this post will cover it.
Sometimes in business, you need to keep promises you didn’t make
When apple launched their Maps app there was outcry at the amount of errors. At times it didn’t even have the correct locations of well known landmarks, some cites and even countries were missing. Usually when Apple launch something, they do it with much fanfare, they invite the media and go through all the new and cool features and enhancements. They make a load of promises. However, with Apple Maps they didn’t actually promise anything. In the end, the app was so poorly received their CEO Tim Cooks made a public apology and also recommended competitor apps.
He apologised for not meeting a promise, a promise that they didn’t actually make.
At Apple, we strive to make world-class products that deliver the best experience possible to our customers. With the launch of our new Maps last week, we fell short on this commitment. Everything we do at Apple is aimed at making our products the best in the world. We know that you expect that from us, and we will keep working non-stop until Maps lives up to the same incredibly high standard.
Tim cook – Apple CEO
(I would say that Maps from Apple now does definitely meet that high standard)
So what happened?
Apple said they strive to deliver the best, not that they will always do. Tim Cook said, “We know what you expect from us”, this means that the promise or expectation is held by the customer not Apple.
Customers and Apple users made their own promise on what the Maps app should be. People look and assess situations differently and their assessments are created form their experiences. People create their own story on what you do and how you are meant to do it.
For example, if you always deliver your products the next working day without promising that, and then one day you deliver after 3 days, some people will complain. Now this also works the other way round too, there is a famous saying in business “Under promise and over deliver”. This will actually help increase and improve satisfaction.
Understanding the promises you didn’t make but your customers expect
Sometimes what you think you are promising doesn’t even matter. Fast food restaurants always show images of pristine looking burgers that we all know we never get.
What they are promising is an OK tasting burger, served quickly, at a price that you can afford and in a location near to you.
We know and understand this promise so we rarely complain about the discrepancy in the above image. We are not buying the pristine looking burger and we don’t expect it, even when they put up a big picture displaying it in all its glory!!! If we wanted the pristine burger we would go to places like Byron , Honest Burgers or Haché.
Understanding the real promises that the customer holds is key to your business. It will allow you to focus on what really creates value, and not on what you think adds value.
What you do consistently or by default could be creating a promise that you didn’t mean to make (think back to my delivery example). What are the accidental promises that you have made in your business? It could be that by refocusing on these you could grow much faster. Build closer relationships with your customers, learn what their expectations are and where they are going.
This will help avoid dissatisfied customers as well as highlight to you other areas where you stand out, areas that you may have not even realised.