I really believe that 80% of providing great customer service is about keeping your promises. There have been times when we haven’t been able to solve a customer’s issue. They may have been disappointed but they were never upset. Breaking a promise to a customer is pretty much guaranteed to make them upset.
Here are few steps that will help you set expectations for your customers and keep your promises:
1. Don’t Make Promises You Can’t Keep
It is much better to tell your customer that you can’t get an answer for another three days than to make a promise you can’t keep. Sometimes companies want to seem “bigger” than they actually are so they make promises that they can’t possibly fulfill. Do you have the staff to guarantee that a customer support request will be addressed within one hour? If not then don’t promise that you will. Adjust the customer’s expectations to what you are reasonably able to deliver.
2. Don’t Remember Your Promises, Write Them Down
Don’t try to keep all of your promises in your head. Eventually one of them will fall out. Use some sort of task manager where you can set due dates to make sure that you don’t forget the promises you make. I use OmniFocus. As soon as I make a promise to a customer I create a task in OmniFocus with a due date. That helps me make sure that even if I forget the promise I made, OmniFocus will remind me about it.
3. Establish Processes and Use Tools That Help You Keep Promises
Processes and Systems help you keep promises. Have a return policy. Document the steps to process a return. Use a help ticketing system. That will help you make sure you have responded to all support requests in a timely fashion. The more processes you have in place the better you will be at consistentlykeeping your promises. Choose software tools that help you establish these systems and your life will get much easier.
4. Give Your Promises a Due Date
This a principle that I just learned recently. Open ended promises are much harder to keep then ones with a specific due date. So instead of saying, “I will get you that proposal to you,” say:
“I am going to try to get the proposal to you in 3 days. If I can’t get to it by then I will let you know.”
The promise has a due date. Both the customer and I know what is expected and when it is expected. At least in my case, promises without due dates tend to slip through the cracks.