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80% of Customer Satisfaction Is Meeting Your Commitments — The Little One’s.

by David Brock on July 18th, 2010

I’m sitting in my office–it’s 97 degrees in the office, I’m fuming, it’s been one of those weeks.  I was traveling all week, thinking I was fortunate enough to miss the very hot weather we are having in Southern California (OK, some of you may think I am whining). 

On Friday, I called my wife, both air conditioning systems in the house had failed — we had just replaced them last October with completely new systems.  I told her to call the air conditioner company to get out to the house.  That evening, I called her again, “had they fixed the problem?”  “No–they haven’t shown up yet.  They said they would be here by 1:00, it’s now 4:30,” she said.  I told her, I’d call the owner of the company to see what was up. 

I called him, didn’t get him, but talked to the office manager.  She apologized, saying that they were running behind schedule, but someone would be there Friday.  Saturday morning, before jumping on the plane, I called my wife.  “Are things back to normal?”  “They haven’t shown up yet……”  She had that tone in her voice, I thought I was about to get a performance review.  I put in a hasty call to the company–got their voicemail and left a polite but urgent voice message.  When I landed, guess what —-yes, you know the drill—they still hadn’t shown up.  This time, I got the owner on the line.  He said that he would personally come by to look at and fix the systems.  I told him that I would re-arrange my schedule so that I could be home all afternoon for him.

Well, that was yesterday, today’s Sunday, no messages, no air conditioning, nothing.  I spent much of my time preparing letters to the Better Business Bureau and other organizations—I guess the heat is getting to me.  Now tomorrow, I have to re-scheduled my business meetings so I can get this guy to meet his commitments (by the way–it’s all warranty work, he doesn’t appear to want to honor that.).

I wish this was an isolated case.  But we encounter it every day–in both big and little ways.  It’s the sales person that committed to call you at a certain time, then 30 minutes later–when you are in a meeting, he calls offering some excuse but expecting to take your time.  It’s the team-mate who has committed a certain set of deliverables on a certain schedule, but fails to meet the commitment–not just late, but no deliverables.  It’s the person that’s constantly 10 minutes late to a meeting, keeping everyone else waiting….   I’ll stop there, I could get carried away.

This afternoon, as I’ve been reflecting, I’ve realized how common place it is for us not to meet our commitments.  Sure we tend to make the “big one’s” — at least when they serve our self interests.  But, it’s unusual for us to meet the little commitments.  I happen to be a little obsessive about phone calls and meetings.  It always strikes me as strange when at least 90% of the people I’m calling exclaim, “Wow–right on the dot!”  They think it’s unusual, to me it’s meeting my commitment.

I few years ago, I was talking to a friend.  He’d built a very good contracting business in our community.  I was asking him his secret, he replied, “I wish it was my ‘craftsmanship,’ but really it’s about meeting commitments.  I show up on time, I do the work they contracted for, I clean up afterwards—just the basics.  That’s really 80% of what’s made me successful and why they hire me over other very capable contractors.”

Just the basics—-showing up on time—-meeting your commitments—–80% of customer satisfaction and differentiation.   It’s a shame it’s not the norm–why do we settle for it?

I’m tempted to end this post with something to the effect of “sweating the details….”  Sorry, the heat is getting to me.

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9 Comments
  1. A very true case.
    Some of the most successful businesses in the world do nothing more then they promise.

    In marketing people always talk about having to over achieve to make a customer happy, but in reality it is just like you say, as long as you deliver on your promises you will get repeat customers.

    This does provide salesmen with a great opportunity though, by just making sure we always call people on the dot, that we never are late and that we don’t promise more than we can fulfill, we will have so many pleased customers that our job will be a breeze.

    The problem I think for many is breaking the habit of thinking it is okej to call 5 minutes late.

    Start today breaking those habits and your success is bound to soar.

    • Daniel, thanks for the comment! If we start executing the small stuff—the big stuff follows! Regards, Dave

  2. Tony Sanchez permalink

    This is so true, specially in this new economy the customer expects what you promise.

    Gentlemen thanks for sharing, if we haven’t yet done so it’s time to get back to basics.

    Cheers,
    -Tony Sanchez

  3. David: I believe that the level of service you received (or didn’t) is becoming the norm as companies do less with less. The person and organization who will stand out is the one who not only meets their commitments, but goes just ONE step beyond.

    Sad that the bar has been set so low recently, but what a wonderful opportunity for the rest of us to out-distance the competition and differentiate ourselves.

    Great post — thank you for sharing!

    • Marcy, thanks for the comment. It’s amazing how little we need to do to differentiate ourselves. Rather than the bar being raised, it is being lowered–so it becomes very easy to set ourselves apart by just doing what we say we will do. Thanks for joining the conversation.

  4. Givonn Jones permalink

    In business, I have remembered the words of my high school football coach – “Stick to the fundamentals!” 1. Never drop the ball!
    2. Stay in your lane and execute your assignments!
    3. Focus on getting first downs!
    4. Leave 100% on the field!

    This should be the standard in business!

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