Keeping promises is more important than ever in today’s business environment
By Jeff Puritt
It’s Baseball Folklore: Game 3 of the 1932 World Series at Wrigley Field in Chicago, New York Yankees vs. the Cubs. Babe Ruth is at bat with a count of two balls and two at bats. He points to midfield, squares home plate and hits home run. He makes a promise to the fans – and he keeps it.
With societal fears mounting and concerns about fake news always high, making and keeping promises in business will be an important element in helping to break this current circle of mistrust. What implications does this have for the concept of under-promising and over-delivering – the idea that stakeholders would rather see their expectations exceeded than simply met?
While the approach suggests withholding information that could potentially be provided, under-promising and over-delivery still resonate with customers, or have they outgrown this nostalgic ’80s trope? My personal belief is that it erodes trust and breeds mediocrity.
Trust is elusive and can be difficult to build
Failure rates for strategic partnerships and business alliances range between 60% and 70%. Common causes are a lack of trust and transparent communication. The data supports the idea that how you perform a contract is just as important (if not more important) than what it says.
It is certainly critical to have a solid business plan backed up by a detailed contract, defined metrics, and formal systems and structures. But in today’s business climate, successful partnerships depend so much more on the ability of individuals on both sides to work as if they were employed by the same company.
Rather than secretly strategizing behind the curtain, business leaders should look for ways to make customer relationships more transparent, conversation by conversation. If you miss a goal or deadline, instead of spending time and energy withholding a customer’s truth or trying to portray disappointing results in a favorable light, invest that time in sharing the time with your customer about the challenges and setbacks you faced – and suggestions for how to improve.
More than ever, it is critical for business leaders to embrace authenticity and transparency, not just as a sales technique or to manage customer expectations, but as core values to guide everyday decisions and actions. The results TELUS International has achieved by building trust are evident in our top 10 client partnerships, each lasting an average of eight years and containing an average of 18 programs.
Innovate to differentiate
In addition to strengthening trust between individuals and teams, the presence of fairness and transparency can transform transactional relationships into long-lasting partnerships that fuel innovation.
When teams from different companies feel comfortable exploring and leveraging each other’s skills, knowledge and perspectives, they are more likely to discover inventive solutions to everyday problems and implement them more effectively. They are also likely to anticipate and solve other problems before they arise.
On a larger scale, these kinds of partnerships create the foundation needed to better identify trends and stay ahead of the competition. TELUS International’s research and development initiative, iLabs, puts this into practice by partnering with our customers in the spirit of co-creation and co-development and by helping them test disruptive solutions and processes that enable them to market and add significant value to their operations.
Customer interactions are not transactions
Once the contract is signed, all organizations must nurture the partnership to keep it healthy. A great way to bring more authenticity to customer relationships is to find opportunities for true connection based on shared values.
One way we do this is to invite clients to participate in charitable events, such as TELUS International Days of Giving, where we and our partners volunteer shoulder-to-shoulder to build homes and schools in the regions where we operate across worldwide. Renewing these invites isn’t about making sales and brokerage deals; it’s about nurturing deeper connections.
Whether leaders recognize it or not, those who focus solely on making a sale versus creating and fostering authentic and transparent partnerships with customers are making critical trade-offs that may not be apparent in the short term, but will undoubtedly affect their long-term value. – long-term success and competitive viability. Countless companies have paid the ultimate price for failing to build trust.
Although Babe Ruth’s promise and delivery of a home run happened nearly a century ago, the premise of building confidence by doing what you say you’re going to do still holds true today. Keeping your promises, no matter how small, can help your team build an enviable reputation that drives loyalty, innovation and growth.
Find out how TELUS International can help your organization deliver the best customer experiences.
Jeff Puritt is president and CEO of TELUS International, a global provider of digital customer experiences.
This post Keeping promises is more important than ever in today’s business environment was original published at “https://hbr.org/sponsored/2022/03/honoring-promises-is-more-important-than-ever-in-todays-business-climate”