Lessons From BET Awards Prince Tribute on Making Good on Your Promises

Right after Madonna’s Prince Tribute during the Billboard Awards, BET took to social media promising that their awards ceremony would have a more fitting memorial.

The BET Awards promised and delivered, with a huge tribute to Prince.

Nothing Compares 2 U

Tori Kelly and Stevie Wonder did a duet of “Take Me With You,” while Maxwell updated the lyrics to “Nothing Compares 2 U,” referencing the length of time since Prince’s passing. Jennifer Hudson belted out in diva fashion the lyrics to “Purple Rain,” as The Roots’ guitarist Kirk Douglas handled the guitar solo. Janelle Monáe performed a medley which included “Kiss,” “Pop Life,” and “I Would Die 4 U.” But, the biggest tribute came from Sheila E., who brought down the house with a medley of Prince-penned songs. Twitter was flooded with standing ovations for the longtime Prince collaborator, friend, and ex.

BET’s Prince tribute is an example of making good on a promise. When companies don’t deliver on brand promises, they risk losing brand loyalty among customers. And when a company over delivers on its promises, it fosters a customer experience with a sense of belonging and of family.

Not only does delivering on promises maintain trusting relationships with existing customers or clients, it helps to land more business. When clients can rely on you to keep your promises, they will stay with you, and you not gain repeat business but also referrals.

You Above All

Since 2010, JetBlue has vowed to place “You Above All” as part of its mission to “bring humanity back to air travel.” It began by telling customers, “If you wouldn’t take it on the ground, don’t take it in the air.” Its latest ad campaign, “Air on the Side of Humanity,” continues in the same vein, with spots featuring a pigeon receiving dignified treatment. A few years back, JetBlue even issued an apology and letter to its customers, written by founder and then CEO David Neeleman. It was posted on YouTube and included an announcement of the JetBlue Airways Customer Bill of Rights.

But last year, the U.S. airline announced it would start charging for checked baggage and would reduce legroom on some flights to add more seats. It was viewed as shareholder profits vs. customer experience, and that JetBlue was backing down on its promise to loyal customers.

Keeping Your Promises

In business, before making a promise, be realistic about whether you can perform the task on time–or even whether you want to do it at all. Breaking a promise to a client could be as simple as saying “I’ll call you tomorrow at 9” or “I’ll reach out to you, once I have that information,” but then not following through.

Don’t let three days pass without giving your client a status update. If you can’t complete the task on time, inform your client before the deadline and negotiate a new, realistic deadline. If you can’t complete the task at all, then discuss alternatives; whether it’s creating a new task or abandoning the task altogether.

It’s far better to decline a job or a request than to accept it, make a promise, and fail to deliver.