February 28, 2014

I'm feeling the need to vent. If you don't know my background, I have spent most of my career opportunities in the realm of customer service, sales, marketing, and administration. Yes, that's a broad range. But you know the one thing that carries through all those jobs? Following through on what you say you'll do!

As a customer service representative, I couldn't have done my job well (and won awards) for promising one thing and delivering anything less than that. In sales, I wouldn't have drastically improved my sales every year if I consistently over-promised and under delivered. And as an administrative assistant, my bosses would settle for nothing less than what I assured them could be accomplished.

So, yes, I likely have an unrealistically high expectation of others following through on their commitments. But that's what's so frustrating!

We all demand excellent customer service and respect from the companies we work with. And yet so many refuse to provide the same level of commitment in their own businesses.

How you follow through on your commitments reflects how you run your business.

Perception is reality. If people believe you won't honor their time or respect them, they won't believe you run your business that way and treat your customers that way.

If you miss deadlines, postpone projects, reschedule meetings, arrive late, cancel at the last minute, or otherwise disrespect the other person, you are setting yourself up for failure.

Sure, that may be a harsh statement. But in a highly competitive market, can you take that risk? If you're not willing to take care of your customers, your competition is willing to take over from you.

If you say you can finish a project by Monday, you'd better be able to finish it by Monday. If you say you can improve sales by 25%, you sure as hell better improve sales by 25%. If you set an appointment, you should be arriving on time for that meeting.

It doesn't matter who the other person is. They can be the janitor, an admin assistant, a sales rep, an executive, or even the CEO. Their time is just as valuable as yours. And your disrespect of their time and value in insulting to them. And you should be ashamed. How do you feel when people treat you that way? So why is it any different for you to treat them that way?

The picture I chose for this post is of someone crossing their fingers. And I chose that for two reasons. The first, you shouldn't be crossing your fingers behind your back, lying to those you work with. If you can't do something, don't say you can. The second reason behind the image, is that your customers (or associates) shouldn't have to cross their fingers hoping you come through with your end of the deal.

I get it, I'm ranting.

I'm obviously not perfect. I've had to cancel meetings and I've missed meetings due to a scheduling error on my part. It happens. But I also stay up late into the night to finish client projects on time. I give as much advance notice as possible when I need to reschedule or cancel an appointment. I also try to avoid scheduling appointments back to back just so I can be sure one doesn't cause me to be late for another.

I'm not trying to make myself sound better than anyone else. It's just that I've made a commitment in every job, every position, every client project to ensure I meet or exceed expectations. Sometimes I might fail and come up short. But those failures actually cause me to lose sleep. I will do everything in my power to resolve and improve the situation for the person I let down.

And you can ask anyone that has worked with me in all my years. If I say I'm going to do something, I will do it and I will do it on time.

So, while I set high standards for myself, I also set high standards for those I work with. If I can do this, I expect those I work with to do the same.

I have met and worked with many amazing people who adhere to the same standards I have. But I have also stopped working with numerous people who don't maintain the same standards.

Please think about your customers and potential business associates. Respect their time and value. If you say you're going to do something, do it!

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  1. Remind me to never reschedule a meeting with you 🙂

    Really though, I know what you mean. It’s pretty frustrating when people don’t follow through, and when I end up doing it myself I feel like crap doing it to the other person- even with a legitimate excuse.

    I recently set myself up to do phone calls on Tuesdays and Fridays from now on, because having calls all week long when I needed time to do other things was overwhelming. It is working out better for me, but clients ALWAYS have to reschedule- it’s crazy. I just spoke to someone yesterday where we had meant to talk a good 5 or 6 times prior. I did reschedule once, but everytime she rescheduled at least once.

    Anyway, great post. People need to stand up and stick to their commitments- myself included- nice wake up call.

    1. I think this should be fair warning, right Mary? 🙂
      It’s great that you altered your schedule to accommodate your needs. And if it makes you more efficient, then you should totally be doing it.
      Of course, things always happen, and things have to be rescheduled. I’ve had to do it and I’ve had people reschedule with me. I get it, life happens. But I think it’s more about how you handle the situation than anything.

  2. You have every right to rant about this topic, Jenn! I believe that we all do. It seems to be the exception to find a person or an organization that provides good customer service, and who lives up to doing what they said they will.

    I must admit that having been working with you over this last several months, that you have ensured that any deliverables you’ve promised have been delivered complete on-time. I have been very pleased with this, and as you know, I keep coming back for more from you because you do what you say you will! For this I say “Great job, Jenn”!

    I look forward to a continued great working relationship for the long-term…


    1. Thanks Dave. I’m glad you appreciate that. The more of us that strive for exceptional customer service, the sooner we can make it the norm 🙂

  3. Definitely well said Jenn (and it is worthy of a “rant”). Delivering on what we promise has to be the cornerstone of our companies. As you say, things can happen, but it is how we handle things over the long haul that will be remembered, not that occasional glitch. It is also important how you handle those mistakes that matters.

    1. So true, Kim! Yes, life happens (look at me being sick for more than a week and not being able to work), and yes, we hope that people are understanding when things come up. But as you said, I think a lot of that comes from how we’ve treated them before and how we handle the glitch.

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