Advanced Manufacturing

No Excuses: You Can’t Fake “Deliver as Promised”

This may seem fundamental, but it is often overlooked as a success metric. It may be that it is considered a foregone conclusion. Don’t be fooled; delivering as promised is what your customer is using as a quality metric for everything you agree to do and how you agree to do it.

How many times have you had ongoing conversations with sales folks and found out that suggestions or promises made early on were no longer part of the conversation? This isn’t so much bait and switch as it is collecting expectations over an extended conversation.

All options are in play, as is typical during an early discussion. As other conditions, requirements and deliverables are discussed and agreed to, some of those options may disappear. Consider pricing. The vendor may agree to a unit price per widget of $100.00, then a month later the requirements shift to include smaller incremental orders with 90-day payment terms. You can’t assume that the unit price will remain at $100.00.  It’s better to find that out before placing your first order.

As a manufacturer, you may view mismatched expectations in a business relationship as simple miscommunications—small stuff, trivial. Your customer does not. They may be depending upon that one very important little detail to make your whole deal work. So, if you are quoting prices and then change the price quoted, you should be sure that change is communicated to your customer.

I remember once contracting with a moving company. They had promised a fixed-price, cross-country move. After packing the van and weighing the load, they realized they had inaccurately estimated the weight of our household. They were stuck with a money-losing move and asked me to agree to a price change. As it turned out, I had something I needed from them. I needed a delivery no earlier than seven days from pick-up.

I agreed to pay a minor up-charge for our load in exchange for a guarantee that they would not deliver prior to my specified date; we had stuff to do inside the house we were moving into. Imagine my disappointment when they showed up three days early!

Deliver as promised is not the same as deliver when it’s convenient.

Delivering as promised means that you are delivering the capability the customer ordered—that your product will do exactly what the customer expects it to do. You will deliver it on time and at the agreed-upon price. The packaging will be correct, and the quantities will match the quantities promised.

At the conclusion of business, your customer will say one of two things.

  • This vendor fulfilled this order according to our specifications.
  • This vendor did not fully fulfill this order.

There is really no in-between. It doesn’t matter if you are talking product quality, included features, delivery date, unit price, color or any other variable.

You either meet the customer expectations or you don’t.

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