I am really bothered these days by the word PROMISES – not by the definition or the word but by how it is being used or misused in business today. Let me explain. How many of you, like me, have been promised something from another business (products or services) and then just have this promise broken or ignored? After all, the word Promise is one of the strongest words we hear and is generally understood by virtually every culture in the world. It is a strong and powerful word that should say, “this is my character and I am going to stand behind what I say.” For example, Southwest Airlines is a pretty good example of a business that keeps their promises. No, they don’t always get it right, but what they promise on they generally deliver on. They don’t mislead you into thinking you are getting something you are not – you get on-time flights, reasonable accomodations, low fares, no food and generally a pleasant and sometimes fun flight. They deliver on that promise and everyone knows what they are about – thus their continued success. Then there are the other extremes where you know you they won’t keep any of their promises so why even bother listening to them – for some reason most car dealers come to mind.
So why is the Norm today not to keep your promises when you are dealing in business. This erosion of the character of people to keep their promises in business concerns me – both for today and in the future. It concerns me on two fronts – first, why have we, as consumers, accepted the fact the norm has become that it is acceptable for businesses to not keep their promises and we will continue to buy from them. Second, it concerns me because this is not what is a part of human nature. Human nature says that we should keep the promises we make people – most people grew up with these values and I believe they are inherent in people today. So if we all grew up thinking a promise was something special, why have we allowed it to be so discounted in todays business environment? Promises are promises to me, regardless of whether you are dealing with a friend or loved one or with a business. I don’t believe it should be different and I don’t believe we should accept it as consumers. If someone makes a promise, they should keep it – that’s the way it should be today.
The word Promise is now being used more and more, by both businesses and politicians. They believe if they use the ”word” that it will carry the day and they don’t need to do anything to back it up. When I hear the word, it makes me want to ask, ”how are you planning on keeping that promise?” ”What plans do you have in place that would assure me that what you promise is what you will be able to deliver?” “What track record do you have for keeping the promises that you make?” These are all questions that now come to mind when someone says they promise me something in business - and I don’t think I am alone. Promises are special and they carry with it the emotion and commitment to follow through and be true to your word – anything less is unacceptable.