A few weeks ago I posted on my blog the Promises Architecture showing that making and keeping Promises is key to building Advocacy personally or professionally. This is something I developed over 5 years ago and is proving to be even more relevant today with the advent and use of social media. Today, I saw a blog post by Seth Godin, one of the true visionaries and thought leaders in both marketing and business. He is someone you should follow if you ever want to be “remarkable” in anything you do.
In his blog post, Cascade of Broken Promises, he hits the nail on the head in regard to how important it is to keep the promises you make. Regardless of whether or not you have or believe in something like our Promises Architecture, it is just so foundational to everything we do in our daily lives and in business. It seems so simple yet so few people really honor the premise of keeping the promises you make – every time. There is no better way to build trust than keeping your promises over and over and over. In Seth’s blog he talks about all the promises that were broken and how, as the experience progressed, he became more and more disgruntled. This is usually the pattern from my experience as well.
Promises should not be taken lightly. People who don’t keep them often feel that the other person either won’t care that much or they will forget about it – WRONG. If there is one thing we have been taught through the generations it is to keep your promises. Your word is only as good as the promises you keep. Think about it, if people feel like you don’t give much weight to keeping your promises, why should they believe in you as a person or what you represent. If it was possible, this would be the only question a future employer or spouse would ever need to know about your character – are you someone known for keeping your promises or not.
In Seth’s example, not only were the promises made by Apple employees frequent but they were made more with the intent that they needed to say this to pacify Seth rather than something they were truly committed to keeping. To those in the experience, they made them but did nothing to show they were going to keep them. Even if they made the promises, they should have kept their word and called him to let him know they didn’t have the answer. But in today’s society, that is viewed as failure and as such, people would rather avoid it than admit to it. This is precisely the wrong way to approach it.
If you make a promise and can’t keep it for factors outside your control, tell the person. This isn’t blaming or passing the buck – no, it is simply keeping the person informed of what you are trying to do to keep your promise. The general rule of thumb is to not make a promise of which you don’t have total control but that just simply doesn’t happen in today’s world – too many variables. So let the person know you are still going to keep your promise but the time line changed, or what you were going to do has changed – just give them an update and you will find a lot more grace and understanding than you might expect.
Learn from Apple in this example. Talk to your employees and tell them how critical it is to keep the promises you make. Not only will it change the customers experience, but your employees will appreciate your sincerity and character for showing them Promises matter. This should be foundational for every company – unfortunately, as Seth Experienced, it isn’t the case most of the time. Do something different, be remarkable, be different, and be of high character – this will carry the day in the short and long run. I thank Seth for sharing such a graphic example – something we should all be reminded of on a regular basis.