When one of my close friends reaches out to recommend that I try their new favorite shop or restaurant, I’m sure to listen and go out of my way to check it out. There is nothing more trustworthy and convincing than a sincere endorsement from a friend, and this is true in practically every aspect of business and life. Research suggests that people are four times more likely to buy when something has been referred to them by a friend or colleague.
Most service-based businesses rely heavily on referrals and word-of-mouth marketing to cultivate new business. Not only do referrals cost your company very little, they also instill trust in your prospective clients and reaffirm that you are doing your job right.
An emphasis on referrals should be an integral part of your business development plan. Here are a few areas to focus on so that you can earn more invaluable referrals:
Make Customers Happy
This may seem obvious, but this idea is THE starting point of any referral marketing effort. Consistently providing an awesome customer experience and going above and beyond to make sure your customers are happy is the best thing that you can do to increase your chances of earning more business. It’s very unlikely that a dissatisfied customer will ever refer their friend to your business. Treat each and every customer like they are the only one, with undivided attention, on-time execution, and consistently clear communication.
Showing appreciation for your current customers will go a long way in boosting their view of your company. When they first decide to partner with you, send them a welcome kit of delicious goodies and encouraging words. Take the time to send them a personalized card on their birthday and for any other milestones they may achieve. Building a relationship based on mutual gratitude will ensure that they hold your company in high regard and will want their friends to enjoy the same positive experience.
“Reputation risk” is a legitimate concern for your customers. They are sticking their necks out for you when they make a referral to their friends. If you let down a member of their network, then it reflects poorly on them. Build a trusting relationship and be confident in your abilities. Make sure they know that you are dedicated to upholding your reputation as well.
One of the most effective methods for encouraging customers to refer their friends and family is to engage with them on a regular basis. Keeping an open line of communication encompasses all the previous tips in one overarching idea. By engaging with them consistently, you build necessary trust and ensure that they are happy with their results. You are then able to show them your gratitude and feel comfortable in asking for a referral directly.
Ask for the Referral
Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral. Approach your customer at the right time, when they are most satisfied with your business and have expressed their gratitude for helping them succeed. Inform your customer that you will genuinely explore whether your service is the right solution for their friend and that if they become a customer, you’ll be sure to bring your “A” game and guarantee they have an excellent experience.
Start a Referral Program
Create incentives and rewards for your current customers, whether it be in a formal, automated program or through a less formal approach. Reach out and let them know that you have a referral program in place, and fill them in on all the details. Send reminder emails about the program regularly, at least every other month. Take time to formulate what the most compelling incentives will be for a referral.
Once your efforts pay off and your customers refer their friends, it can be tempting to view each referral as an exciting new lead. Rather than get caught up in the anticipation of new business, it is important to keep in mind that the process of receiving a referral is a significant honor. A referral is more than a chance to begin a relationship with a new client, it is a wonderful opportunity to deepen your relationship with your existing client and show them gratitude. After your business receives a referral, you should reach out and show them your appreciation in a celebratory way. The true value of a referral is that the current customer believes in you and is willing to share your company’s value with their network.
Thinking about customer referrals as gratitude and celebration opportunities will create a rewarding cycle of your referrals bringing in even more referrals. What business wouldn’t want to jumpstart that pattern?