Four Ways You Can Under Promise & Over Deliver to Your Clients | Victoria Rayburn Photography
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Are you familiar with the concept of “under promising and over delivering”? Basically, this is a customer service strategy where you give your clients more than you initially promised to delight them and make them feel valued and well served.

I believe that under promising and over delivering is key in running a successful business of any size and crucial in offering great customer service.

With this in mind, let’s discuss four easy ways you can under promise and over deliver to your clients so you can (1) better serve your customers and (2) help your business grow!


1. Deliver ahead of schedule.

With every sale, it’s important to clearly communicate when your clients will receive their products or services. (Think Amazon Prime’s two-day shipping.) After all, we all naturally like to know what to expect! (Side note: Delivering late is poor customer service and will likely cause your customers to be upset.)

And, an easy way to exceed your clients’ expectations is to deliver your product or service quicker than you promise.

I’m by no means saying that you need to figure out how to create or deliver faster. I’m simply encouraging you to add buffer time to the delivery date you guarantee your clients. This will give you space to deliver before the promised due date without forcing you to change your workflow.

For example, I tell my brides and grooms that’ll it’ll take four weeks to receive their wedding photos. However, photos are typically delivered within two weeks.

And, because I want my clients to clearly see how I over deliver for them, I include the following sentence when I share their online gallery with them, “I know I said it would take four weeks to receive your photos, but because you guys were so much fun to work with and because your wedding day couldn’t have been anymore perfect, I couldn’t stop working on your photos. And, I’m so excited to deliver your wedding photos to you two weeks early!”

After sending this email, I often get the sweetest messages back from my clients specifically thanking me for the quick turnaround!

How can you deliver ahead of schedule within your business? If you’re a photographer, artist, copywriter, graphic designer, web designer, or another creative entrepreneur who provides some kind of service or craft, this’ll likely mean delivering your finished work before the promised due date. If you own a boutique or sell tangible products, this’ll likely mean shipping products faster than your clients expected.     

Regardless of your craft, there’s definitely a way you can exceed your clients’ expectations by delivering ahead of schedule!


Another Reason to Add Buffer Time

Adding buffer time to delivery dates is also a great way to make sure your clients still feel well served when life happens.

For example, let’s say you tell you clients there’ll be a four-week turnaround. You intend to deliver within two weeks, but you get the flu and just can’t work. Or, there’s a fire within your business that you have to put out, and this puts you behind. As a result, it takes you three to four weeks to deliver.

No worries! You don’t have to break your word, and your clients will still feel well cared for, because you can still deliver within the promised timeframe.


2. Give your clients more than you promise.

Now, friend, I’m by no means telling you to give your work or time away for free. But, I am encouraging you to deliver more to your clients than you promise by budgeting to exceed their expectations.

For example, I tell my wedding clients that they’ll receive about 800 photos. In reality most receive between 1,000 and 1,300. I know this, but my clients don’t.

So they know they’ve received more than promised, I tell them the following when I share their online gallery with them, “So, I had a little problem while editing your photos . . . Usually, I share 800 to 900 photos with couples. But, I simply couldn’t cut your photos down. There are X photos in your gallery! And, I hope you love every single one!”

And, again, my brides and grooms are thrilled to get this message and feel so special that I took “extra” time to deliver more photos for them.


Ways to Deliver More than You Promise

Depending on what you do, giving your clients more than your promise will look different, but here are a few suggestions you can make your own:

  • Photographers, you can deliver more images than promised or mail a few prints.
  • Graphic designers, you can include a few graphic options for your clients to choose from.
  • Web designers, you can include functionality that wasn’t initially promised. (You will need to explain to your client what you added, because he/she likely won’t understand the benefits or that adding the functionality required “extra work.”)
  • Artists, if a client orders a custom piece, you can gift them with a print or another painting that you’ve already created.
  • Boutique owners, coffee shop owners, or other business owners that sell products, you might want to consider a punch card that results with a free product after so many purchases.

Again, I’m not telling you to give your time, talent, or inventory away for free. I’m simply encouraging you to figure out how you can exceed your clients’ expectations by budgeting to deliver more than you promised.


3. Find ways to surprise your clients.

Who doesn’t love a good surprise or gift?!

While there are ways you can surprise your clients for free, it’s a good rule of thumb to budget 5% of a client’s investment for client gifts—especially if you’re a service-based entrepreneur who works with clients for extended periods of time. (For example, brides tend to book me about a year before their weddings, so from booking to delivering their wedding photos, I work with them for 12+ months.)


Ways to Surprise Your Clients

In case this helps, here are a few ways to consider surprising and gifting your clients!

  • You can send a welcome gift when they book. For example, many wedding photographers mail a wedding guide to their clients with other fun stuff (candles, soap, etc.).
  • You can take advantage of holidays by sending your clients a card and/or a gift.
  • You can send your clients a treat, product, or gift certificate on their birthday. (Think about how Starbucks gifts rewards customers with a free drink!)
  • You can send just-because gifts. (Julie Paisley is a great gift giver and discusses this idea in episode 38 of the Brands that Book podcast.)
  • You can send clients a thank you gift when their project/order is complete. For example, I used to send my brides and grooms a flash drive with a custom painting by a local artist inspired by their wedding decor. Today, I send clients mounted prints with their flash drive.

Whether you send an email or a package, your clients will be delighted and feel cared about when you surprise them!


4. Respond to emails & other messages as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, we live in a world where it takes FOREVER to get email responses. It’s frustrating, but most of us have accepted that this is just the way the world works.

However, if you want an easy way to delight your clients and let them know that you’re there for them, respond to emails and other messages as soon as you can. And, NEVER let a message go unanswered for more than 24 hours. (The only exception being that you’re on vacation or out of the office and have your automatic email responder turned on letting clients know when they’ll hear from you.)  

This may seem like common sense, but I think it’s safe to say that a lot of creative entrepreneurs are great at communicating with inquiries during the booking process but become lazy once the client has officially booked. This is poor customer service and will likely cause your clients to feel buyer’s remorse about working with you and diminish their trust in you.

To make your clients feel well cared for, simply get back to them as soon as you can—no matter where they are in the buyer’s journey—so they know that they’re a priority!


With all of this in mind, I want to remind you that as an entrepreneur, the success of your business largely depends on:

  1. How well you serve your clients
  2. The referrals your clients send your way

So, take some time to analyze your business and find ways you can under promise and over deliver to your clients to better serve and build up the people who make your business possible!



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