I Took a Risk When I Overpromised

Sometimes setting the bar high forces you out of your comfort zone.

Anna Burgess Yang
4 min readJul 18, 2022


a majestic lioness in a savanna, pop art
Image created via Midjourney

One of the cardinal rules of customer support: never overpromise.

I learned this very early in my career. If you overpromise, you break trust — something that can be very hard to earn back. Better to consistently keep expectations realistic and delight the customer by delivering on time and as promised.

I knew that… and yet I made the mistake of overpromising. Not a little overpromise either…. a BIG overpromise.

I was working at a fintech and the customer (a community bank) called to tell me about an upcoming project. The project was something my team regularly did, and it was complex. It was tied to a much larger initiative at the bank — one that cost millions of dollars and had a very precise delivery timeline. If things didn’t go as planned, the bank could lose access to my company’s product for a period of time.

Usually, my company required a minimum 8-week turnaround for projects like that. I asked the customer for their planned launch date.

3 weeks.

I wanted to please the customer.

My head began spinning because I knew that failure to deliver in 3 weeks would have a negative impact. Yet the customer had failed to plan ahead — most customers gave us months’ notice of such an initiative.

And this was a customer I had known for years. I had built up a rapport, and the customer trusted me. I didn’t want to upset them.

Somehow, in my sheer panic, I said, “Sure, we can get that done for you. Send over the information we need.”

The 8-week turnaround was usually needed not because the work itself took 8 weeks, but because it was juggled among other projects already in the queue. I knew that I’d need help from a data analyst, so I asked the development manager if we could squeeze in this project.

I was told no.

The development team had its own deadlines to meet, and there was no way to work this project onto the schedule.

I understood the requirements.



Anna Burgess Yang

Productivity geek + solopreneur with niche expertise. #5amwritersclub frequent flyer. • https://start.annabyang.com/