If you think a customer’s order will be ready within 5 days, tell them they can have it in 7 or 8 days. That way you give yourself breathing space in case something goes wrong (and believe me, they do!), or you look super efficient when you deliver earlier than expected. Never tell a customer he can have delivery in 5 days and then take 7 days to deliver – that’s an absolute no no.
Switch roles and see how you feel if you send your cellphone in for repairs and they tell you it will be ready in two days, but five days later you’re still waiting. You’ll be breathing fire and screaming at whoever you can get hold of. Some companies seem to think that if they tell you the truth about how long a job will actually take, then you’ll go to a competitor instead. In a minority of cases this is true, but most of the time it’s not. One thing is for certain though – that customer will never use you again if you take five days to deliver when you’ve promised to complete the job in two days. Given a choice, most people will continue to use your services if you do a good job and deliver on time, even if you are slightly more expensive than your competitors.
This week end we went to a restaurant with some friends, and after an hour the hostess came to our table and promised that our meals would be another three minutes. Twenty minutes later there were six hungry, very unhappy patrons still waiting for our meal! Even though we all enjoyed our food we all said that wouldn’t go back to that restaurant.
The restaurant could still have rescued the situation if the hostess had apologized for the delay and brought us two focaccia's with their compliments.
Mistakes happen – but you can still impress your client by accepting blame (don’t make excuses if it’s your fault) and giving him or her something extra to compensate for your mistake.