In a week when we’ll witness another Royal Wedding and an exchange of lifetime promises and commitments, it made me stop and think about the promises we make to our clients in business.

Just as a successful marriage will thrive and survive given trust, understanding and the delivery on certain promises made from the outset – so too a business relationship can strengthen or sadly diminish over time.

Just as in any good relationship you must create and deliver products or services your customers want, at the right quality, on time, consistently. And from time to time… throw in a few pleasant surprises the other party wasn’t expecting – that can really work wonders!

Whatever your promise is, deliver on it.

If anything, under promise and over deliver. Way too many businesses get this concept transposed, and that’s not good at all!

So for your business this all boils down to planning coupled with quality control and how you track your delivery. So if you’re a sandwich shop, don’t buy too much bread that leaves you throwing away more than you can sell, but also make sure you have enough to cater for demand so as to not disappoint your customers.

If you’re a service company or a call centre, ensure you have the correct level of staff to meet your customers’ peak call volumes. A missed call is a sale lost, and worse yet, potentially repeat orders lost too.

Whilst you are planning your stock or staff volumes, you must ensure you maintain or exceed your customers’ service expectations so that they come back to you as repeat clients. Poor quality of your product or service could easily make your customers seek alternative suppliers – what’s the point in that?

When a restaurant can’t get your order right or takes far too long to get the food to your table, how do you feel? What’s the point of such a business wasting money on marketing to you when you’ve had this kind of experience?

Your business must master delivery, and that means achieving consistency. As a small business you can often cover a mistake with a smile and a personal apology. But, as you grow, as your staff levels increase, as your customer base increases, what was once a small problem could put you out of business. Be warned! Bad reputations are really easy to spread!

How is your delivery right now? Have you mastered the delivery of consistent quality? Quality that your customers are happy really with?

What you must keep in mind is that there’s no point filing the sink unless you first put the plug in! Don’t spend your time and efforts marketing your business if people can fall straight down the plughole because of poor service delivery.

Here’s an exercise for you: what are your top ten customer complaints? I encourage you to write a list. Maybe the last few are grumbles that would only upset someone like Victor Meldrew, but let’s shoot to exhaust the list of ten. Once you have identified the issues, set about making the necessary changes to plug your sink before you turn on the taps.