We hear the saying “under promise and over deliver” all the time. For the most part, I am in total agreement, but to me, there is a negative connotation to the words “under-promise.” It is almost as though you are sandbagging. With that said, a promise to a customer needs to be well thought out. You must be sure that you have accounted for all things that could hold up a project. Most of the time, all those things do not go wrong, and you are in great shape to “over-deliver.” Customers love to be pleasantly surprised and hate to be blindsided with bad news.
A recent trend is hospitals posting on billboards the current wait times at their emergency rooms. Also, our Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles posts waits times at all locations on its website. To me, those posted times are promises to customers. There is nothing I hate more than waiting in line for anything. One day I had to conduct business at the DMV. I checked the website to verify the wait times at the offices closest to me. Happily, I saw that the office a couple of miles away had only a five-minute wait. I jumped in my car and headed over. Almost to the minute, one hour later I emerged from the office more frustrated than if I had not been told it would be only a five-minute wait. My opinion of the DMV fell to a new low that day. They may want to re-think posting the wait times on their website until they are sure they can deliver.