How Much Did Your Word Cost? Or Earned?

“We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot.”

-Abraham Lincoln-

We live in a society where it’s easy to just forget about what we promised – customer satisfaction guarantee, warranty coverage, and even a simple promise made to an employee or spouse. I was just reading a customer satisfaction guarantee form inside a store where I bought my kids’ iPod charger that said they will do anything and everything to keep customers happy. Yet, the owner of the store even pointed out that I was at fault for the malfunctioning charger. Sometimes, words are skilfully crafted to work around so as not to keep what was promised. But what if we did keep our promise even if the cost is high?

US$800 a day is not something I usually spend, considering the fact that our monthly grocery budget is only half that. We keep our costs down as much as we can in order to meet our other financial obligations. So, when the cost to travel to New York City to see my son for his birthday was that much, my initial reaction was to bail out and just tell my wife that I can’t afford to make the trip. I was about to make the phone call when I realized that I promised my son to be with him on his birthday – and I told him one too many times to reassure him. That was more than enough for me to pick up my tablet and booked the flight to New York City. After getting my confirmation code, I kept thinking about how much I have spent just to keep my word. Aren’t we all like that sometimes? We look at how much it costs to keep our word and bail out when we measure it against our balance sheets. Believe me when I say that keeping our integrity is not easy.

But what if we counted the benefits of keeping our word instead? Zappos and 6pm.com turned a US$1.6 million blunder into a great marketing and advertising story that earned more customer loyalty and sales. That could have been a red mark in their balance sheet but they chose to keep their word. Michael Hyatt (blog | Twitter) on his podcast talked about how his former manager kept his word which, in turn, earned Michael’s loyalty. Keeping our word has benefits that far outweigh the costs of not keeping it.

Please don’t make promises you can’t keep. But we would definitely love it if you just work hard to keep the ones you already made.

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