The Importance of Doing What You Say

promise“I’ll have the final copy for that email to you in an hour and then it will need to be coded immediately,” he said. I made plans to be ready to receive the document and translate it into an email with superhuman customer service strength, satisfying the client’s needs and exceeding his expectations. Four hours later, I was still waiting, my schedule for the day had been turned upside down, and the client had set a precedent that I would pin to him for the remainder of our relationship.

Has something like this ever happened to you?

Even worse, have you ever done it to your clients?

For freelancers, one of the most critical things you can do is exactly what you say you are going to do. To fail to do so will have lasting effects on your business, your reputation and your client relationships. In this post, we will look at reasons this is important, as well as a way to insure that it becomes a consistent element of how you run your business.

Ruin or Raise Your Reputation

Losers make promises they often break. Winners make commitments they always keep. Denis Waitley

Probably the most important reason to do what you say is how it causes others–clients, colleagues and friends–to think of you. Regardless of your intentions, your reputation is how others perceive you, whether it is realistic or not. Your responsibility is to build the best possible perception of you for others and avoid giving them any reason to think otherwise.

Are you reliable? Do you complete your work in a timely manner and when promised? If not, most professionals will not settle for substandard for very long.

We all know that negative statements are dispersed far more easily and passed along much more quickly than positive ones. Any time that you make a commitment and then fail to follow through and fulfill it, the story of it is very likely to follow you wherever you go from that point forward. With today’s viral communication methods, this is even more dangerous to your business than ever before.

By contrast, if you make and keep promises, it is quite possible that your satisfied client will sing your praises and recommend you to others. I have seen this happen in my own business often, and it has become a cornerstone for its growth.

Drop the ball and fail to deliver, and you are guaranteed to begin ruining your reputation–possibly to a point that could be fatal. Keep or exceed your promises, and you will have a client, colleague and/or friend for life.

Satisfaction for Everyone

Your life works to the degree you keep your agreements.  Werner Erhard

Not only will your clients and colleagues be pleased with your work ethic when you do what you say, but your own life will reflect the satisfaction of a job well done. Your self-confidence will increase in proportion to the number of satisfied customers and commitments kept, which in turn grows the level of confidence your clients will place in you.

This perpetual cycle will produce overwhelmingly positive results. The opposite, however, can go so far as to kill your freelance business altogether.

Letting others down by failing to keep your commitments will steadily take its toll on you personally, which in turn impacts how you deal with your clients. This is a dangerous path to tread, and should be avoided at all costs.

An Expectation of Excellence

If you believe in unlimited quality and act in all your business dealings with total integrity, the rest will take care of itself.  Frank Perdue

Doing what you say consistently will create in your clients an expectation of the highest standards. For the lazy or timid freelancer (can there be such a thing?) this may sound daunting, and it might not be the environment they would like to work in. For the successful freelancer, this is the ultimate motivation.

High expectations breed high quality results. If you set the bar at a high level, you will find yourself striving to exceed it. A good freelancer always has some competitive streak, even with themselves. The expectation of integrity, high quality and consistency is a great motivator that is fed by valuing the commitment to do what you say.

Wouldn’t you rather have clients that come to you expecting the best, rather than mediocrity? Doing what you say you will do creates such an atmosphere.

The Key to Keeping Your Promises

The person who is slowest in making a promise is most faithful in its performance.  Jean Jacques Rousseau

The number one rule for consistently doing what you say is to keep from over committing.

It’s that plain and simple.

Think before you commit. Allow yourself some breathing room. Weigh other variables such as outstanding or upcoming projects. Avoid rushing into anything.

If you make a commitment that you know without a doubt you can keep–or even better, exceed–you will build a foundation for many future successes and growth. So take your time before promising anything. Very seldom do rush decisions work out well. In the end, everyone involved will be happier, and the future of your freelance business will be brighter.

Your Thoughts?

For some it may seem obvious or redundant to suggest that doing what you say is of vital importance to a freelance business, but rest assured there are plenty of people who for one reason or another have never grasped this concept.

How about you? Do you have a history of keeping your commitments or failing to deliver? How has this affected your clients and your business? What other suggestions do you have for ways to insure this consistency?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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