Customer service: Is ‘underpromising and overdelivering’ worth the effort?

Customer service: Is ‘underpromising and overdelivering’ worth the effort?

James Glenn Gomez Published on November 20, 2017Last updated on July 2, 2021

Put yourself in the customers’ shoes. How do you gauge the quality of service a company gives? What makes a customer experience an excellent one? Would you consider a normal, vanilla transaction a high-quality service?

In whatever facet of customer service, it’s often advised for businesses to underpromise and overdeliver. Underpromising sets the bar of expectations low for customers; overdelivering means going beyond what is asked. When applied, simple requests become memorable moments; customers become more satisfied because of the positive customer experience. But is this practice worth the effort for your call center?

The debate on underpromising and overdelivering

There are those who believe that going the extra mile merits better value, creating a positive reputation for your brand. Not only did your customer service team help your consumers, you went beyond what is expected of you to satisfy their needs. And this can influence them to be loyal to your brand.

smiling customer service agent in call center

There’s also the fact that it sets the customers’ expectations much higher. Take a look at online sales giant Amazon.

Their delivery times seem to get shorter over time, to the point of considering the use of drones to circumvent traffic or getting your product delivered before you even ordering them. They continually top the promises they make and still make sure everyone receives excellent customer experiences.

However, not everybody can pull this off.

In contrast, this maxim has an ironic nature. Some people view underpromising and overdelivering as withholding the best you can offer to customers. It’s like you’re being strategically deceitful by not being upfront about what you can bring to the table. It’s like you’re hiding what could get the job done immediately.

Others think the above and beyond approach is just wasted effort.

According to a study, you could just always deliver (not over or under) and still gain the customers’ approval at virtually the same rate as going above and beyond.

So, what do all these mean? Go above and beyond when you can and when you should. Understand that every customer is different. Some may want to feel that your call center agents are making an effort for them. Others just want things to go their way regardless of how services are delivered. What’s important are the promises you make—keep them, don’t break them.

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