Going Above and Beyond for Customers? Don't Bother

Going above and beyond for your customers doesn't always pay off, new research finds.

Customers want a business to do what it promises to do — nothing less and nothing more. There is little or no benefit to putting forth a greater effort to exceed a promise, because merely keeping a promise is so highly valued, according to a study from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

"Businesses may work hard to exceed their promises to customers or employees, but our research suggests that this hard work may not produce the desired consequences beyond those obtained by simply keeping promises," the study's authors wrote in their research. "Promises can be hard to keep, and promise makers should spend their effort keeping them wisely."

For the study, researchers conducted three sets of experiments, and found asymmetry between promises broken versus promises kept, and promises kept versus promises exceeded. In one experiment, they asked undergraduates to imagine purchasing 10th row tickets to a concert from an online company. The participants then received worse tickets than promised, better tickets than promised or the exact tickets promised.

The researchers discovered that the ticket buyers had a negative reaction to not only the worse tickets, but also the better tickets.

Nicholas Epley, one of the study's co-authors and a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, said organizations don't need to go above and beyond their promises in order to be appreciated. As long as companies do what they promise, people will be grateful, he said.

"If you do put in the superhuman effort to do more than you promised, don't get angry when other people don't seem to appreciate the extra work you put in," Epley said in a statement. "They're not inherently ungrateful or unappreciative — they're only human."

The study, co-authored by Ayelet Gneezy, an associate professor at the University of California at San Diego, was recently published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Originally published on Business News Daily