Guarantee What You Don't Control



In my last blog article, I explained how customers find guarantees appealing, because they are a sort of super-certainty and that as a provider of services you can show you are confident of delivering a great service by adding a guarantee to it. If you are wondering what you could possibly guarantee, you can start by looking at the aspects of your service you control.

But now let’s switch it up a gear… what about the things you don’t control?

UK hotel chain Premier Inn have a "good night sleep" guarantee. If you don’t have a great night sleep for any reason, for example, the bed was uncomfortable, or there was a lot of noise in the hallway, or even that you were just sleepless and restless, they will give you your money back. I remember when I first saw their TV commercials advertising this new guarantee I thought “surely people will stay there and complain about anything to get their money back”. But apparently it’s not the case. Instead it’s a draw, customers are mostly decent, and appreciate the effort a hotel will go to to be able to make that kind of promise.

Premier Inn are guaranteeing someone else’s subjective experience of a good night’s sleep, a thing they can’t control, but clearly something they are very confident they can still deliver. And people find THAT level of confidence and certainty very appealing.

Another example, Costa Coffee offer their “Never a Dull Taste” guarantee. Simply if you don’t like the taste of your Costa coffee, they promise to remake it for you. Another guarantee on a subjective experience, although unlike the Premier Inn example, one which is a little less expensive to rectify.

Guaranteeing experiences, what you don’t control, is demonstrating you have very high confidence in the quality and effectiveness of what you offer. With that in mind, what really great experience guarantee can you make?

And before you think that this is just a highway to the high court, let me explain what a guarantee actually is. It’s not an absolute certainty that things will work out, it’s a promise of what you will do in the event it doesn’t. It’s a two-part promise:

Part 1 – You make a promise you are very confident you can keep.

Part 2 – You say what you will do to put it right if it goes wrong.

Premier Inn promise a good night's sleep (1) and offer to refund you if it doesn’t happen (2). Costa Coffee promise you will like the taste of the coffee they make you (1), and will make it again if you don’t (2).

What could yours look like? Some examples…

  • Bubble bath – We guarantee you will feel relaxed after a soak in our bubble bath (or bring the rest of the bottle back for your money back).

    Yoga studio - We guarantee that you will feel amazing after your yoga class (or we invite you to come and tell us where it fell short of your expectations and will give you your money back).

    Driving school - We are so confident in the quality of our instructors that we guarantee you will pass your driving test first time (or the next 3 lessons are on us).

    Rail company - We guarantee you will enjoy your train journey today (or we invite you to come and tell us how we can improve it and we’ll give you a voucher towards future travel).

    Visitor Attraction – We guarantee you will have a great experience with us (or we invite you to meet our director for a coffee and you can tell us where we fell short).

  • Guaranteeing someone else’s experience takes courage but your confidence will draw in more customers. If you meet your guarantee everyone is happy. If you don’t, you are presented with an excellent opportunity to have a conversation with customers about where your service didn’t meet both their, and your, high expectations.

    What are you so confident you can deliver well? What experience can you guarantee? And are you still brave enough?