The team at betterRetailing hope you had a great Christmas and New Year and found some time to relax with your family. We also hope you did not get inconvenienced with any of the difficulties that the delays caused by Network Rail’s overrunning engineering works caused many people.

I discussed what went wrong with Network Rail’s plans with Graham Hales, a newsagent with a shop next to Cosham station. His simple explanation for the failure is that railway engineering in and around London is very complex. No matter how much planning is undertaken, there is great potential for the unforeseen to be confronted. This year, two days were not enough to complete and Network Rail’s contingency plan did not provide sufficient time to deal with the unexpected.

In fact they over promised and under delivered.

Victoria-Sponge-promiseVictoria-Sponge-deliveredAnother major UK company that has become used to over promising and under delivering is Tesco. My wife and I have visited their new store at Taplow near Slough several times and have noticed a marketing A-board at the entrance that shows a “picture perfect” Victoria sponge that is available at their Euphorium in-store bakery.

Unfortunately, the cakes on display do not look like the advert.

For me – and I suspect for many of their customers – over promising and under delivering on what is clearly seen as an anchor product devalues the whole marketing message and we all know the mess that Tesco has got themselves in.

One of the keys to long term success for any business is to surprise your customers by over delivering on their expectations. If you have a story that reflects this please let us know.