Promises are made in many different ways by a business.
Some are verbal and some are written. You can find some just in the visual images and graphics shared. Some are offered through traditional marketing channels and some come to us online.
Here are four promises that businesses have recently offered me. Each item was something I was interested in:
- A restaurant, in their advertising and on their website, offered “local foods.”
- An tire repair shop gave me the opportunity to suggest an appointment time that worked for me using their online tool.
- A hotel outlined its green policy and had multiple pictures with the recycle logo of its efforts.
- A local garden shop advertised various products it had for sale.
So what were the results. Three of the four promises made were not kept. Only the hotel came through on having an active “green” program. They showed that through its staff and their work, through blue bin recycling efforts, and through signs demonstrating their efforts.
The other three, well, the wait staff couldn’t tell me what was local at the restaurant; I am still waiting, after three weeks, to hear from the tire repair shop; and the items at the local garden shop were not there (and they had never carried them – it was a generic advertisement).
So what does this mean for the business owner?
First, in terms of promises kept, we tend to not even recognize most of them. It’s expected so when the transaction is over, we go on our way without a feeling of satisfaction registering. It takes several of these successful trips before we begin to see the company as reliable and dependable. Unless the item is something big or important or involves a timeliness issue, a single promise just doesn’t stand out.
But look how well I remember the promises not kept. One time and I have already identified your company as one to watch or simply to avoid.
In my case, the results of these unkept promises: The tire shop previously provided me with “above and beyond” service so I will probably give them another try: I will probably give the garden shop another try based on past performance; but, I probably would not go back to the restaurant. This was a first time try and there are many other eating choices for my dollar.
It’s difficult to build your business reputation. One miss can overcome a lot of good work. Be aware of the promises you make and work hard to fulfill them.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.