Bob Schultek
Author of
The Gauntlet

Businesses sometimes refrain from using the word “promise.” It’s risky to promise an outcome that might fail to be delivered due to some unforeseen variable. So if no promise is explicitly made, then the risk of failure is reduced. 

But in a world where customers have many options available to them, “promising” a result can be a differentiator. A promise is a commitment, that when fulfilled, creates value for the customer, reinforcing trust and building loyalty. Without risking the promise, your return is a one-time transaction, and the probability of developing an enduring customer relationship is greatly diminished.

Making and keeping promises compels a business to put the customers’ needs and aspirations ahead of their own. This is not possible without first clearly understanding what the customer values and why, and then assessing how likely it is that the promise can be delivered.  

And delivering involves more than products or services – it includes the experience of applying these offerings on the way to resolving the customer’s need, an experience that triggers an emotional reaction. The experience creates a story; stories evoke emotions, and it’s the emotions that contribute to customer value creation, enabling trust and cultivating relationships.

The thing about promises is that they are the fundamental ingredient of enduring relationships. When actions fulfill commitments, the positive experience strengthens the customer connection. If the customer’s experience is negative, trust deteriorates and the relationship fades.

What role do promises play in your customer relationships?