Always under-promise and over-achieve

by Martin Reed on 3 September 2007 in Articles

Achieve more by under-promising

Your number one priority is to keep your members happy. Members are happy if they feel valued, respected and listened to. They also need to trust you so make sure you never give reason for your members to doubt your integrity.

One way you can delight your members is to adopt the mantra, ‘under-promise and over-achieve’.

The benefits of under-promising and over-achieving

Imagine the last time you were told something would be done and it wasn’t. It didn’t feel good, did it? Perhaps you were a little angry, maybe a little upset. Maybe you even felt like you had been made a fool of. These are the last things you want your members to feel.

If you promise your members that something will be done, make sure you are capable of meeting your promise. I would always recommend you under-promise – if you think the task will take you an hour to do, tell your member you will get it done in three hours – this gives you more leeway should anything unexpected happen. In any case, your member will be delighted if you contact him after only 20 minutes to say everything has now been sorted out.

By under-promising and over-achieving, you help to achieve member delight. Your visitor will see you complete a task that they thought would take a few hours, far quicker than normal. This will make them feel valued, and your attentiveness will not be forgotten.

It is far better to promise something will be done in 6 hours and then complete it in 3 than to promise something will be done in 1 hour and get it done in 2. You set the standard in your promises – always over-estimate the time it will take you to get things done, and delight your members when they get done quicker.

An example of under-promising and over-achieving

Let’s say a member contacts you because another member has posted their picture on your forum without their permission. They want that picture removed immediately, but are not sure how to provide you with a link to the post in question.

Depending on the size of your forum, it may take a while to track down the post in question. You think it could take you an hour – tell the member that you will look into the matter immediately and get back to them within 4 hours.

You can then find and delete the image, and also go one step further by searching through the rest of the forum to ensure there are no other copies of the photo. After 40 minutes or so, you can contact the member to advise them the image has now been removed and that you have taken the liberty of checking the rest of the forum to ensure there are no other copies of their photo present.

Not only have you achieved your promise with hours to spare, you have also gone the extra mile by doing something that was not asked for – namely, checking the rest of the forum for any additional copies of the image.

By now, you will have successfully turned a member with a complaint into one who is delighted with your response and feels truly valued as a member of your community. You won’t be seeing him leave any time soon, thanks to your policy of under-promising and over-achieving.

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Tom September 4, 2007 at 8:58 am

Thanks for the very valuable piece of information.

Louiss September 4, 2007 at 10:40 am

Agree with you. we must respect our blog members. Don’t ever wait for few days to few weeks to take action as you stated the example above. If my personal picture has posted by anonymous i honestly don’t like it

home decor guy September 5, 2007 at 8:43 pm

what a clever little tactic… Basically you are making yourself look like a superhero.

“It will take at least 10 hours to manipulate the schmitzle”

Then, 15 minutes later

“well…I said it would take 10 hours, but I somehow got it done in 15 minutes”

“Wow your a superhero!”

Very very clever

Martin Reed - Blog Author September 6, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Tom – I am glad you found the article useful – do you under-promise and over-achieve?

Louiss – I agree with you. If you are not responsive, your members will not feel valued. A successful community relies on its members feeling wanted and respected.

home decor guy – What an interesting concept! I guess in a way you are making yourself out to be a superhero. I wish I had thought of it this way before – it could have made a great title for the article!

Smiley September 10, 2007 at 11:40 pm

Ha ha, I do this all the time, I kinda felt bad until I read your article saying it’s OK.

I often say “In 2 or 3 days I’ll be adding a new feature..” then explain what it is.

And less than a day later they’ll have it and they’ll be playing with it etc.

Makes them happy, so no harm done.

Martin Reed - Blog Author September 11, 2007 at 9:33 pm

Smiley – I don’t think you should feel bad about using this technique; you should only feel bad if you promise your members something but fail to deliver!

Smiley September 11, 2007 at 9:44 pm


Army Kate November 23, 2007 at 12:35 pm

You know, that was actually very good reading. Nice job.

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 25, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Army Kate – Thanks for your kind comment; I am glad you enjoyed the article.

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