The most spontaneous and organic way of promotion is through customer referrals. This usually happens due to word of mouth, and increases customer count for your service or product. More than 71% people buy products after reading reviews of the same. Hence it is crucial to learn how to make business from customers by referrals. Positive feedback from a customer to a potential customer is a big virtue that only companies that know how to market possess.
In how many ways can customers refer your company?
- Word of mouth:
This is a major way to get referrals. Word of mouth references are the most common and spontaneous kinds of references as most users buy some product or avail some service only after someone recommends it to them. This recommendation is highly trusted, usually the first go-to source of information and its authenticity is unbeatable making it crucial for business growth. Even in the age of digital media and sophisticated marketing technology, the good old word of mouth is hard to beat.
- Online reviews:
When you buy a product or use a service online, and the moment you find out the product is not up to the mark, you go online and you write down a review stating your experience. Based on this, the company that manufactures the product or service reacts by either replacing it or providing a refund. This would not be possible 10 years ago. Online reviews are a very important part of service today, and it is because of their dynamic nature that they can either build you or destroy you.
- Social Recommendations:
Social media portals like Facebook allow you to share and recommend your business to other people. They allow people to share and recommend your work and build relationships with people and share content with them that they might find useful. The key to market better is to use content that is self created. If a person likes your product, they instantly share it on their news feed or social circle, where someone else likes it and passes it on. Referral based on social media is like the word of mouth of the modern age.
How can you get references from your customers?
- Asking at the right time:
It is instrumental to perform good in order to ask for a referral. There is always a right time to ask for it. You can’t ask for a referral if you did not meet your client’s expectations, because that will backfire and you will lose a customer. Perform better to get the opportunity to ask for referrals. If you make your customer happy, they will want to refer you to their friends or close ones. You can also ask them to pair the referral with their experience in order to add more depth and to increase the chances of getting the customer to buy from you.
- Feedback is important:
Treat the feedback that your existing customers give you as your bible. It is your path to certain success because it will serve many purposes; primary being that your existing customers will notice that you care about the problems or shortcomings they faced with your product or service. Secondly, it is a great opportunity for you to improve as an organization and getting referrals from customers.
- Scratch their back more than they scratch yours:
Offer freebies to customers so that they will remember you and make sure to spread the word, because everyone loves a free thing or two. It makes them feel valued and happy. So offer incentives like gift cards, or one month free subscriptions, cash-backs or discounts; anything that will make the customer feel like they got more than what they paid for. Doing this will increase your referrals exponentially.
- Respect limits:
If you ask a customer to refer your organization to their friends, but they do not want to, respectfully back off and give them space. It is not necessary for you to know why they wouldn’t refer you in spite of giving good service. After giving them some time, ask them to write a testimonial, if they are still adamant about not giving a referral. By giving them a choice to do something that requires less effort, they will do it and that will also prove helpful to you in one way or another.
- Blow their mind:
After getting associated with a customer and providing them a service or product, be sure to have a clear idea about what their expectations are. After understanding these expectations, go ahead and give them more. Mention them on your website, cite their testimonial or prove to be their greatest resource to make them feel important in some way so that they will tell people about your work in a positive way.
- Use LinkedIn:
When you have a specific referral in mind, and want a way to connect with them, you can contact the customers who loved your work on LinkedIn and ask them to make their connections aware of your work. These can be you prospect customers as they can see your profile and have an idea of who you are and what you do before contacting you. This works in such a better way than contacting someone who has no idea about you.
How can you increase your referrals?
- Game of cards:
Hand your customers your business cards or a link to your website or a brochure or any kind of printed material that they can hand over to their friends or someone they want to recommend. It is so much easier to give a referral when you have something in hand that can prove to be useful.
- Get the right information:
Receiving only a name and number does not help at all. It can be treated as a lead but not a referral in any way. Make sure you have a referral form or an online form which will make sure you have a valuable referral. Otherwise it will only waste time. An ideal referral is where your customer is also present during a deal or when the customer initiates a meeting between you and their referral in person or via email. Having an active agent on your behalf is the best way to have a good referral.
- Contact your most loved customers first:
The upside to this is that you don’t have to convince them a lot because they already had a good experience with you and your organization. Their opinions will amplify your chances of getting good referrals and also in good faith because your most influenced customers have provided them to you. Look for clients or customers of your business who have a lot of influence or contacts. This comes in handy especially if you do not have a lot of resources.
- Maintain good relationships:
If you keep in touch with your customers and maintain good relations with them, it can really affect your referral system as they will understand that you are concerned about your customers and treat them in a good manner. Don’t forget these customers once they provide a valuable referral to you, that will make them feel like you are a deceitful organization.
What mistakes to avoid?
- Don’t act desperate:
If you ask for a referral even before letting the customer try your product or service, there is a fat chance they will not give it to you. Having a good business deal is about maintaining a good relationship. Let your customer use your product, give some feedback, confirm that they are satisfied with your service, then you can ask them for a referral. Never ask for it too early.
- Value your customers:
The entire act of handing out referrals is very personal. It is important to ensure that you treat your customers and referrals as people before business partners. When you provide a service to your customer, it is a professional deal, but when the customer recommends you to someone else, it shows that they have some amount of trust in you which they don’t want you to break. Never break your customer’s trust.
- Remember to say thanks:
It is very crucial that you remember to thank your customer when they provide you with a referral. If you think about it, they go out of their way to provide you with potential customers, so not being grateful to them is very cringeworthy. You should thank them when they provide you with a potential customer by sending them something personal and memorable, like a card. If and when the referral buys from you, you get another opportunity to thank them and also provide them with a freebie like a gift card for their invaluable help towards your organization.
Making a referral program is a very crucial step in expanding your business. There are many ways to do it and there are many ways to do it wrong. Some actions have deep repercussions hence you should always think twice before taking a step. There is a lot to learn from this and a lot of opportunities to come in contact with very valuable people.
- Make your referral program as easy as you can.
- Be very upfront when asking for referrals. Being shy or hesitant about it will not help.
- Always remind your customers that you exist in a way that works for them and not you.
- Use social media fully to your advantage.
- Try to use an automated referral system.