Optics Are Everything In Business
It’s Not Just About What You Say To Your Customers. It’s Also About What They See.
Customers care much less about what you say you’re going to do than what they see you deliver. That’s what we call “optics.”
For instance: let’s say you’ve just agreed to do some work for a client. In your estimation, you think the project will take about 2 weeks.
When they ask you how long it will take to complete the work, what should you say?
If you tell them it will take 2 weeks to complete the work and you’re right, the client will be satisfied. The expectation you set matched the outcome you delivered.
The most predictable part about doing business is that it’s often unpredictable. Plans change. New information adds new challenges. Sometimes it takes a bit longer to complete a project and get it right.
If your timeline drags and it takes 3 weeks to complete, the client may be unsatisfied because your delivery didn’t match the promise, even if the quality of the work is better.
This is where optics come into play.
Yes, quality is still a factor you must optimize for in your products and services. But don’t forget about optimizing for the expectations you’ve set within the context of the relationship.
If you think a project is going to take 2 weeks, but tell your customer it will take 4, you’ve created an opportunity and padding for yourself. If you’re still able to deliver the work in 2 weeks when they were expecting 4, you’re “early” and they love you for it.
If you end up using the 2 remaining weeks, you’ll have a built in buffer to get things right and still be able to deliver on time. This is how pros plan their projects.
The same work is being done in both examples — but the expectations you set beforehand change what the customer sees.
Optics, my friend.
Beginning entrepreneurs often don’t understand that it’s better to purposely underpromise what you can do for customers and overdeliver rather than overpromising or “hyping” your abilities — and not being able to follow through.
Question: Have you ever made the mistake of “overpromising” what you could do for a client or customer? What happened and how did you resolve it?
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