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Exceed expectations and customers will love you

David Clarke reckons that the 2012 Olympics provide a further useful business lesson.

Just a week or so prior to the magnificent opening event for the 2012 Olympics, there was a wonderful cartoon in The Daily Telegraph by Matt: “I thought I didn’t care about the Games,” said a man to his wife. “But it’s hard not to get swept up in the wave of cynicism”.

It pretty well summed up the mood: the controversy over the ‘Zil lanes’; the potential fiasco of the M4 being closed and the even bigger fiasco of the security issues. All had occupied the news agenda and all were giving the nation cause for concern.

Ten days later, the mood could not be more different. The country it seems has been raised not on a wave of cynicism but on a wave of joy, pride and belief. “This is why Britain is so great,” exhorted one excited spectator.

And here is the business lesson: LOCOG never intended to pitch the Olympics at a level where the country became cynical – about the cost, inconvenience and ability of us to put on a great show – but that was how much of the country felt. As it transpires, the reverse has been the case and our joy – not only at the success of our British sportsmen and women – is all the more intense because we’d never ever, in our wildest dreams, expected it to be ‘this good’.

‘Under-promising and over-delivering’ creates far greater customer satisfaction than ‘we’ll give you the earth – and the failing to deliver the earth’. So when we buy a product or a service that we think is good and then discover it to be absolutely great, we are even more satisfied.

In PR terms, living up to and then exceeding the promises you make to your customers makes for even happier customers and clients.

Meanwhile, The Telegraph’s Matt cartoon has continued with the Olympic theme showing a delivery vehicle outside a house where a man wearing a cycle hat stands by his bike. His neighbour says: “I was inspired by the Olympics. I sold my bike and bought a bigger TV”.Rejoice in Britain’s success!

David Clarke is Head of Strategic Communications at Clarke Associates.

David Clarke

David Clarke

David is well known amongst Birmingham’s business community – especially as a keen supporter of the city. Indeed, so keen is he that he has co-written and produced Birmingham’s only wide-appeal independent guidebook to the city: The Rabbit Guide to Birmingham (available in all good book stores!).

His day job is running a well-respected Birmingham PR and communications company. He has some 30 years of experience in the development and implementation of communications and public relations programmes.

David is past-Chairman of business lobby group Birmingham Forward, a former trustee and director of Birmingham Settlement and a past chairman of the Institute of Directors’ Birmingham Business Breakfast Club. He has also served as a director of Marketing Birmingham and serves on the board of the Prince’s Trust in Birmingham and Solihull and is on the Council of Birmingham Chamber of Commerce.

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