Make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make

Make promises you can keep and keep the promises you make

You may have noticed in recent times that many companies, especially larger organisations, are focusing their marketing and advertising efforts on trying to portray themselves as caring and empathic to whatever cause they think is important to us; the ‘we understand you and what you are going through’ approach.

They are trying to talk to us in a personal, friendly manner like they are our closest friends, and your call is ‘really’ important to us ‘trust me’ tones.

Well, I am not buying it at all. And neither are many other people. We’ve had enough.

Why? Because the rhetoric very rarely matches the reality of the customer experience.

Companies are creating a TRUST Deficit.

Take this current example of a campaign that appeared on LinkedIn:


WESTPAC – The Promise:


Getting your business idea out there starts at Westpac. We can help – talk to us today.


Are your business ideas waiting to get out there?

Your Ideas – Proudly Supported By Westpac


WESTPAC – The Reality:


Person 1

Well let me tell you something Westpac about waiting to get out there. Last October I filled out an application for an unsecured loan for $50k with the promise to be notified in 24 hours. One month later I called back and spoke about my application with the promise that someone would process it again within 24 hours. It is now three months on and nothing yet. Why don’t you take this idea on board Westpac, and start pleasing your customers and not just your shareholders?

Person 2

Well said person. They are really not talking about small companies, in their eyes small companies go straight to the bottom of the pile

Person 3

Five years ago I put the word out with the banks with my business proposal plus I have been a Westpac customer longer than they have been called Westpac, and the only bank to offer finance was Commonwealth Bank, $100k and we own our home outright, but Westpac didn’t want to know us…

And the list goes on.

Epic fail Westpac!

  1. Where was the connection all the way down the value chain to where it really matters?
  2. Why didn’t the promise deliver the real world experience?
  3. Where are the expected standards of sales and service delivery that matches the promise?

Quite frankly most of us are sick and tired of being treated like idiots by organisations that think they can slap on a veneer of caring.

It has been going on too long in business, politics and the community at large.

Just think about the current TRUST Deficit in Australian federal politics.

I’ve been talking about this since the early 2000s and I’m not the only one.

Way back in 1999 the book The Cluetrain Manifesto (a force that rose out of the discontentment people are having with businesses and how they fail to communicate with people) was documenting the insincerity of organisations – private, public, government and so on, and really nails it when it says:

“Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humourless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies.”

“No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do. But learning to speak in a human voice is not some trick, nor will corporations convince us they are human with lip service about ‘listening to customers’.”

“They will only sound human when they empower real human beings to speak on their behalf. While many such people already work for companies today, most companies ignore their ability to deliver genuine knowledge, opting instead to crank out sterile happy-talk that insults the intelligence of markets literally too smart to buy it.”

All that sales and marketing effort to get people buying from us wasted, trashed because no one built the bridge all the way to real world where the customer actually connects with us.

Good marketing and salespeople can only do so much – they have to rely upon the rest of the value chain to deliver on their promises to the client.

Whenever I see comments like those cited above in the Westpac example I know there is a major disconnect across a company’s value chain.

No one has explained to the people in the business that this is how we sell and service around here; and if they did they did not train them in how to deliver the experience promised and how we live and keep our promises to our clients.

Westpac is not alone, too many organisations fail to understand that the sale is not over until the deal has been delivered in full as promised.

We don’t need to be experts in this area, because we know exactly how it feels when companies fail to keep the promises they make to us.

Next week I will write about how we can engage the whole value chain ensuring that we deliver on what we promise, and when we can’t to take responsibility for that and still help our customers have a great experience.

Remember everybody lives by selling something.

Sue Barrett will be speaking at the SmartCompany ‘Growing Your Business Seminar’ August 12th.

Sue Barrett is the founder and CEO of the innovative and forward-thinking sales advisory and education firm, Barrett and the online sales education & resource platform



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