Keep your promises

I’ve had a couple of experiences this week where promises made were not kept. One was a promise about funding for a voluntary organisation, the other a promise to change a procedure to allow more time for comment and input.

How do you feel when a promise or a commitment is broken?

I know I was angry and disappointed. I sat in the room when the commitments were made. Then I saw the emails setting out the revised position. I had to read them twice to be sure I was not misinterpreting what was being said!

Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, said “trust arrives on foot and departs in a Ferrari”

Now, I don’t trust the people who made those commitments. It makes it difficult to continue doing business with them – are they going to let me down again?

What commitments have you made that are still on your to-do list?

Is there a training course you said you would organise / pay for, or perhaps it’s a new printer because the old one keeps breaking down.

What about your customers?

Have you made explicit commitments – perhaps on delivery time? The project will be completed by xx/yy or your goods will be shipped within one working day? Are you matching those commitments with your actions, or even better exceeding them? If there aren’t explicit commitments there are implicit ones – your customers’ expectations.

Sometimes, life gets in the way – and what you thought you could do you now find you can’t. You are going to break that promise – that commitment.

If you do nothing – stick your head in the sand and hope the recipient has forgotten your promise – you aren’t fooling them, just yourself. You think that by avoiding the problem it will just go away!

If, on the other hand, you put your head above the parapet and confront the problem – you tell the recipient what has happened, and why you can’t avoid breaking that promise – you will at least reduce the damage. It won’t feel like it when you tell them, but you will be better off in the short term.
The customer service gurus will tell you it is not avoiding customer complaints – that’s pretty nearly impossible – but how you deal with the complaint that matters.

Do as you say & say as you do – but if you can’t do, communicate why