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2009-06-25: Make an effective promise after obtaining a target customer

As a supplier on-line, instead of face-to-face transactions, you conduct business via electronic mediums, such as E-mail, MSN, and so on. It greatly reduces your cost while it also means it's easier not to keep your promises to their customers because it seems that nothing you need to worry about. After all, few customers will find your troubles face-to-face owing to the long distance in geography. That's why some companies dare to be over-promising and under-delivering after obtaining a target customer. Consumers are continually promised everything from next day delivery, to great customer service, to the best prices, but they are all too often promises that the product and representing company cannot keep. Vivian, a foreign trader of a very small international trade company in Shenzhen, had a word with her boss after receiving a complaint from one of her customers. Her boss ate his words, only delivering only 20 barriers, rather than 22 barriers the quantity her customer ordered.

The suppliers having the same thought like Vivian's boss must regard that they get more profits. From the long run, the fact is quite opposite. Customers evaluate a seller based on how well promises get delivered. Promises build trust, understanding and customer loyalty. Under promise and over deliver is a principle that is sure to make your business thrive. Every time you break a promise to your customers, you erode away at the trust. Those consumers who were hooked with false claims are not coming back for more, but they may not purchase from you again and will be likely to tell ten friends about their negative experience with you.

The long distance in geography actually means that you should pay more attention to keeping promise to your customers. New technologies enable customers to get a lot of choices. If you set expectations to your customers by making a commitment but fail to meet their expectations, your customers will slip away to your competitors easily. Of course, if your goal is simply to launch a one-time sale, and you are not concerned with customer satisfaction or referral business, you can do the same thing as Vivian’s boss did, and this might be the right strategy for you. I'm sure what you want is to build long-term relationships with customers.

To retain your customers and maintain a good name on-line, you should be carefully when making commitments to your customers. Don't make unrealistic promises and make commitments idly that can result in broken promises. You can make an effective promise to your target customer to persuade your customer into buying your products, which can avoid the bad influence.

An effective promise shares such characteristics as realistic, unique, compelling, explicit, and credible. As it is said above, an unrealistic promise can easily lead to a broken promise. If your promise is not unique and compelling, there is no incentive for a customer to pick your company over any other competitor. How can you attract your target customers? Meanwhile, your promise must be explicit to ensure that you and your customers have the same understanding of your promise. This can in case that your customers think you cannot make true to your promise. What's the most important is that you need to make your promise credible. Some buyers are so extremely skeptical that they don't believe the promises. They assume you are lying or at least exaggerating your promises. You have no chance to persuade your customers under that condition. So what you will do when you counter such skepticism? You must supply overwhelming proof that what you say is true.

In addition to the promises you make to your customers personally, you must aware that your promises include the literal promises in your company introduction and product description, and in your advertisement Therefore, you should care your words in your company introduction and product description you posted on-line or in advertisement. Buyers will first overview your information on-line before making inquires to you. For example, a supplier without his own factory claims to have his own factory and can provide the highest quality with the lowest price in his company introduction. How can he fulfill his promise? How can he offer the lowest price?

In reality, no one can assure everything goes as he hopes. In that case, admit your mistake, apologize to the customer and do whatever you can to make them happy. Remember this: Even the smallest of actions can have a negative effect on that level of trust. When you treat your customers poorly, you are driving business to your competitors. In business, a person's word has to be good. If you cannot keep fulfill your word, you cannot be trusted and when that happens. How can you continue to conduct commerce? Credit lines will be cut and personal contacts, which are so valuable in the business world, can be lost. Setting an expectation and then exceeding it is a way to deliver value and confidence, and make sure that people involved in your business relationships are thrilled with the value they receive.

About the Author is an innovative and comprehensive business portal in China, dedicated to saving costs for Chinese SMEs to find buyers and export to overseas markets.


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