Over Promise and Under Deliver
Shane J
Read Time:
9 Minutes
May 10, 2018

One of the BIGGEST PITFALLS in providing a service is promising something to a client that you CANNOT DELIVER. Whether it be due to size or time constraints I would have to say it is a faux pas. In this week’s blog we will discuss situations where we should watch what we promise to our clients.

This is a topic that Lisa and I discuss at great lengths regularly. We never want to be in a situation where we over promise something to a client. As a business owner, you should aim to UNDER PROMISE and over deliver instead.

As a business, at Provoke we are always learning and shifting timelines to adapt how we do things. We learn daily what works and what does not. We have learned that what might work for one project most definitely will NOT ALWAYS FUFILL another project, no matter how similar they appear to be.

What everyone needs to consider when promising ANYTHING is that EVERY client and project are different at the core. There are different set of situations behind the project and it’s not a cut and dry website”. Every client has a different personality to deal with. This will throw a monkey wrench in any simple plan you have in your head.

Do not get us wrong, we love all our clients in equal but different ways. You learn their quirks, how they approach things the more time you spend with them. Therefore, you need to make sure to never, EVER, over promise.

While one client might be all cool with “well that did not work as planned”, another might have a complete MELTDOWN, as they have more than just this project on the go. You do not know what’s going on in their personal lives. This is a variable that will constantly be fluctuating daily.

Like your clients, we are all humans that have very BUSY and COMPLEX lives. We all have variables that can make any project go from simple to complex with one change. For that reason, we need to temper what we promise on all projects.

I am a firm believer in the KISS method as my kids call it. Keep it Simple Stupid. Is it crass? Most definitely. Does it fit 99% of all situations, absolutely! We all need to realize that when life and other people are involved things CAN CHANGE RAPIDLY.

I am NOT ALWAYS a perfect communicator in person. I try to keep things simple, so I do not confuse the client. It still happens on occasion but, I work hard to make sure they can always come to me if they have any confusion. By keeping things simple and under promising you can set the client up for a good surprise if you are able to do something incredible for them.

If with deadlines you can only get exactly what you have promised them, that is fantastic also!

The KEY WOULD BE that you delivered a well-functioning product, software, or design exactly as you said you would. I do not know a client alive that would be unhappy with this. You just gave them EXACTLY what you promised!

That is what good services is all about. That is what we always aim to accomplish.

This brings us to some of the pitfalls of OVER PROMISING on a project. As I said previously, there are a lot of variables that change often in a project. One huge one is TIME AND SCHEDULING of projects. We have been in the situation where we didn’t realize the sheer size of a project. We flat out underestimated it on our scale. This caused HAVOC in our entire business.

Just to note, I am not talking about any current clients we have, just a project we did when starting up. I see our clients reading this blog and wondering “is it me?” NOPE, not you. More like in the EARLY DAYS of Provoke before we learned our lessons.

Back to the issue at hand and how it caused havoc on our entire business. Think of this like dominos falling and knocking other dominos in different directions. Then those dominos knocking over other dominos. Are you seeing WHAT’S HAPPENING, and how one domino has now just changed the path of other projects you are working on?

EXACTLY. So, this one project has now had influence on timelines of other projects. It now, for example, has just PUSHED BACK timelines on other “dominos” in your schedule. Now what you promised other clients has been detoured and changed. When you are a small to medium business YOU CANNOT AFFORD for stuff like this to happen.

It changes all the timing of all the projects around it and therefore any other dates become scattered to the wind and broken. NOT GOOD. Now you must run around and try to adjust, not one project, but maybe 3 or 4 that were lined up.

I can tell you, it was not fun trying to figure the mess out and get the project at hand completed at the same time. This is where different PERSONALITIES also come in. Some clients are cool with their work being delayed or moved around. Others will not. ANGRY clients are not the kind you want to deal with. HAPPY clients make HAPPY life.

So now you are scampering around like mice, on not one, but 4 projects instead of just the one you over promised on. That’s a lot of STRESS to have on you and your company all at once. Stress is not the best environment for delivering the best experience to your client. Stress just leads to more stress and more problems in the office. It’s a can of worms that no one should open.

By under promising to that client you now have the FLEXIBILITY to shift your schedule around and move other timelines to help keep everything on track and all your clients equally happy! Under promising on timelines allow you to add extra time in for testing and making sure you are delivering the most optimized product.

I can tell you from personal experience, NO PROJECT ever goes as planned. Anyone that tells you that, in my opinion, would be lying. With all the complexity of people, and our lives, things will shift and move about often. So, by under promising what we will deliver and when, we have now created space and tempered expectations so that we can meet all our clients’ needs and KNOCK THEIR SOCKS OFF!!

I have many more examples on pitfalls and problems with OVER PROMISING that I will be saving for another day. Remember WORK HARD and PLAY HARD, till next time …...