I mentioned a few weeks ago how Dell had delayed my PDA shipment a few weeks later than I had originally been told. Three days before my new ship date, Dell emails me that they had shipped my PDA. In the end, I received it the day before my revised delivery date. I was pleasantly surprised.
How can I be pleased when I still received my PDA later than I had originally hoped? Simple: after Dell’s original delay, they underpromised and overdelivered.
Set the Expectation
When Dell emailed me about the delay, they did do one thing right: they put a new date on my calendar. All my hopes and excitement were thereafter hinged upon receiving my new toy on that new date.
When you set the customer’s expectations on when your product will be available, they internalize it and lower their expectations until that time. As the the date approaches, their expectations grow. Make sure you met that date!
Room to Maneuver
When you set a delivery date in the future, give yourself wiggle room. As you are most familiar with your business, you can foresee certain delays that may strike and impede you meeting this date. Always give yourself a little buffer to account for problems.
Be careful however when playing this maneuver game. If you give too much of a lead time up front, your potential purchaser may go elsewhere. They need the product sooner, rather than later, and will find another company who will meet their time constraints.
In addition, if your expected delivery date is consistently later than reality, your customer will no longer trust your estimates. They will always expect faster service than you promise. This could backfire when you do a have a legitimate delay in your process.
Be On Time
Although underpromising and overdelivering may work some times, the best practice is to deliver your product when expected. The customer will be happy because you delivered what you promised, when you promised.