How to Make a Business Promise You Can Keep

There’s no shortage of people who make resolutions at the beginning of a new year. We even make strategic plans for the year based on our goals. But I have a proposition for you.

What if you made a promise instead of a resolution?

According to Webster’s Dictionary, a promise “is a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something.”

A goal “is the end toward which effort is directed.”

In his book, The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt states that the goal of any company is to make money.  That’s true.  And yes, this includes non-profits.   Money is the blood that flows through the veins of our organizations and without it, well…they will cease to exist.

From a business perspective, a promise is customer-centric whereas a goal tends to be revenue-centric

And this is where we can get ourselves into trouble.  You see, as overseers of our companies’ daily operations, we are accustomed to focusing on meeting goals (the money) and less focused on meeting our promises (commitments) to the very people who keep us in business.

Being Customer-Centric

Keeping our business promises requires a cultural shift from being revenue-driven to customer-centric.  Ironically, this is what process improvement work is all about. But as a Lean Six Sigma practitioner, I was taught to attach process improvement initiatives to the revenue-driven goals although the whole point is to be customer-centric in our approach. 

Being more customer-centric means embedding feedback loops throughout your product or service delivery process.  It requires talking to your customers directly…asking what they what they like and don’t like. 

But there’s a catch. 

You can’t get mad when they give you feedback you don’t like.

Their feedback may hold the key to saving the way you operate and ultimately your business altogether. If it weren’t for my former organizing clients asking me to showcase more of my process engineering abilities, my company would definitely not be where it is today. 

However, even I am guilty of focusing on making money rather than focusing on my customers and it has caused much unnecessary stress and angst. Listen as I go into more detail in an episode from my Business Infrastructure podcast:

Making Your Promise Known

Having trouble defining your business promise(s)? 

My good friend Kemba told me about an amazing interview of marketing guru, Seth Godin.  In this interview, host Marie Forleo asks Seth to discuss what I’m now calling a “business promise template.”  Check out the video below to see this template (go to the 6:47 mark to get to it immediately).

There are no hard and fast rules for this.  You can probably create a business promise for every type of product or service you have.  The most important thing is to make sure you can actually fulfill your promise(s)!

Fulfilling Your Promise

If marketing is about making the promise to your customers, then operations is about fulfilling that promise

This is what marketing expert, Andrea D. Smith, and I concluded after we explored how to strike the perfect balance between marketing and operations. You can listen to find out more:

Making Sense of it All

In the spirit of business infrastructure, think about the people, processes and tools & technologies you need to make sure you can fulfill your business promise.

Being customer-centric leads you to the goals.  Your promise will give you clarity. While you may not reach a specific business goal, you can keep your business promise.

Do right by your customers and watch them reward you with revenue, referrals and positive reviews!  This will most assuredly ensure that you keep them happy while also meeting your business goals. I can help you improve your processes.  Workshop?  1:1 consultation?  I won’t know unless you tell me! 

Getting Started – Taking the Next Step

Not sure where or how to start? Contact me right now to setup a free, confidential 30-minute consultation. We can not only explore your promises, but make sure you have the processes in place to keep those promises.

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