Success Monday: Under Promise and Over Deliver

Teresa Allen says you should make it a routine, every day with everyone, to under promise and over deliver.

Teresa Allen is an author and internationally renowned speaker who has won multiple awards based on her expertise in the field of customer service. Visit her website to read more about her or read her blog entries. In this one, she talks about a simple yet effective way you can make a positive impression on those you deal with every day.

?”A very simple way to distance yourself from competitors is to do what you promised.  Whether you are talking about shareholder returns or returned phone calls, doing what is promised is a simple yet rare customer service strength in today’s business world. The old axiom “under promise and OVER deliver” can be YOUR SUCCESS STRATEGY. Let’s look at a few examples at various levels of the organization!


The phone rings at 9:00 a.m.  A customer has a question about a statement he just received in the mail. The customer service representative knows it will take a few minutes to check with the billing department and tells the customer that he will call him “right back”.

What is YOUR definition of “right back”?  The answer to that question probably depends a lot on your individual personality.  If you are a relaxed and calm person, you might allow 10-15 minutes. If you are a Type A, like me, that phone better be ringing in the next two minutes!

Think about what happens after the promise to call the customer “right back” is made.  Does the world stop turning? Absolutely not! It is likely that the phone rings with more callers demanding service and co-workers and supervisors who need your help RIGHT NOW! All of a sudden, the service rep looks up at the clock which now reads 9:50. His face suddenly resembles that of a ghost on Halloween as he lets out a ghoulish sound. “Oh my gosh, I haven’t called Mr. Smith back yet!” No matter what the solution is offered in response to Mr. Smith’s problem or question, he is not a happy camper. He has waited almost an hour to be called “right back”.

Think of how different the reaction had the service rep offered, “Mr. Smith, may I call you back by about 11:00 today?” Now when the phone rings at 9:30, the customer looks up at the clock and thinks, “They called me back early!”


You tell your staff that you should have new computers by Jan. 1st. Feb. 1st rolls around and still no computers. Talk around the water cooler is that hell may freeze over before the new computers are installed. You hear one employee comment to the other that this should be no surprise, as the promised raises haven’t happened either!

Why over promise and under deliver when you can under promise and OVER DELIVER with such positive results? Think about how the practice of under promising and over delivering can have major impact in your organization. Make it the topic of the next staff meeting or customer service briefing.”

Teresa Allen is a highly acclaimed customer service speaker and is the author of Common Sense Service: Close Encounters on the Front Lines. Visit her website to find more ideas on building your customer service culture. To contact Teresa call 800-797-1580 or email: [email protected]

tony kindelspire oct21

Tony Kindelspire

Tony Kindelspire is the former digital content editor of Sign & Digital Graphics & WRAPS magazines.

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