Under-promising and over-delivering

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Stakeholder value is for me an important concept – I think that you should deliver value to all your stakeholders, be it your boss and your company, your family members, your dog or your friends. If you can live your life, constantly delivering great value to the people around you, I think you are going to live a good life (what you give is generally connected to what you get) and have many people see you in a positive light. Many religions even has excellent tips about this.

There is a challenge though – and that is other peoples expectations. If they expect you to deliver certain value and you don’t – they’ll be disappointed, if you deliver enough to just about meet their expectations – they might not even notice.  This can be quite frustrating, but you do have a certain element of control over what people expect – depending on your actions, how you display them, how you talk about your own abilities and what you will to do and so on. A good tip that you probably have heard before is to “under-promise and over-deliver”. If you apply this consistently, making sure to not promise too much, while still providing great value – you will notice that the effect is huge. People react much better being over-delivered too, the feedback you’ll get will be completely different than if you had just met their expectations.

About an hour ago I had an experience of this kind with a company most people, at least in Europe, know very well – Ryanair. Ryanair is arguably a company whose brand only promises to provide you with cheap fares and nothing more – and that’s fine with me. I for one don’t expect red carpets, meals if the plane is late (though they rarely are), possibility to change dates or anything else if I only pay €25 for my flight.

I am a frequent user of Ryanairs services, however last time I booked a ticket I had incorrectly put my girlfriend’s name as “Allison” and not “Alsu”, so that the name on the ticket didn’t match the name on the passport. UH-OH I thought. Given my expectation of Ryanairs brand I was completely sure that they would charge me a big sum for changing it (normally at €100 / passenger). However, after having immediately reached an operator on the phone (I didn’t expect that either), she changed the name without the least bit of hastle. WOW.

And presto, Ryanair got a great amount of new respect from me, a happy customer who will talk about this to his friends and family for almost no money (and since they charged for the call, they probably still earned a little bit). Had Ryanair been SAS (a Scandinavian airline) I wouldn’t have been impressed at all – as this would have been what I expected – even if the price I had paid for the ticket would have been the same.

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