In business, there is an old adage, “Under promise and over deliver.” What a load of crap. Why bother setting expectations if you know you can exceed them? Anyways, I digress.
In my recent post about finding performance boosts in areas that are often overlooked, one of the suggestions I made was to not over deliver on features, benefits and services, and to determine what the customer needs and only provide that.
Companies struggle to meet their self-imposed deadlines and promises, even though they may have no additional value to the customer. You may have a policy that you will return a customer’s call within 30 minutes, but what if customers would be willing to wait two hours? You exhaust resources to make that 30-minute deadline, sometimes even missing it. You are creating unnecessarily high expectations with the customer and setting yourself up for failure in trying to live up to those expectations. You are giving customers more than they require.
In his book, The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen talks about a similar concept, which he calls performance oversupply. This is where companies develop enhancements to their products that exceed market expectations.
Let’s use the example of Quickbooks, a leading accounting software designed for small and mid-sized businesses. There is a great deal of functionality within this software application, however, most customers only use about 10% of those features. The same goes for Microsoft Excel or most enterprise technology systems. Think of the effort that Intuit and Microsoft and the other organizations put into developing all of that additional functionality. Think about the resources that were used and the pressure that was put on those resources to meet deadlines and manage costs. Yet they were building something that most people didn’t need.
You don’t need to over promise AND over deliver, you just need to determine what the market needs and provide it better than anyone else.