Remember when Firefox ran the 2-page ad in The New York Times? Well Mozilla sells posters of that advertisement for just under $7, so it’s a pretty good deal if you’re a Firefox fan. In fact, everyone outside the U.S. who doesn’t have access to the print version of the Times would probably be buying this to remember the event, at least that’s what I’d assume.
Unfortunately for Mozilla, they apparently didn’t think this poster would be a big hit. Because of this, it seems as though they didn’t print nearly enough and now people who ordered it when it first came out are getting pretty ticked off because after two months it still hasn’t shipped to everyone.
Colin Devroe wrote about his awful customer experience with Mozilla, and how they led him on, email after email, saying they’d be correcting the printing problem “soon.” Colin probably wouldn’t be so ticked off if they just analyzed the printing problem correctly and said from the start, “to be honest, it may take a month or two for all the kinks to be worked out.”
What should you take away from this? Always be honest with your customers, just not brutally honest. Give estimates with some padding so that you account for unanticipated circumstances. If something will take 5 days to complete, say it will take 7, then deliver in 4 if you can.
Under-promise, over-deliver. Or more precisely, slightly-pad-your-promise, then work hard to deliver better than your promise. Your customer is happy and you can now use your resources for new work.