This is a repost of Jay’s article on LinkedIn – the original article can be found here.
If you are in the service industry, then you understand the value of a customer referral. With a customer referral, you capture all of the advantages of a cold hard sale without having to do all the hard work.
Not to mention, according to research by the Wharton School of Business, the lifetime value of a new referral customer is 16% higher. That’s so significant, it’s almost worth it to beg for new referrals. But, let’s be honest, where is the dignity in begging?
Here ere are 5 ideas to help you boost customer referrals without having to get on your hands and knees.
1. Create a positive experience for existing customers
It makes sense that existing customers are only going to refer new clients to your company if your services are out of this world. This means you need to take the time to go above and beyond for your current customers.
You may be wondering how? I’m glad you asked. There are several successful ways to foster customer loyalty, according to the research, including:
- Personalization of messaging and services
- Focusing on competitive price and unmatched value
- Providing excellent customer service from adept and kind business representatives, both online and off
- Engaging and following up with customers at the right time
- Using social media to engage with followers
- Offering multiple and convenient payment options
- Soliciting feedback in an open and positive way
It can be difficult to keep track of all of your customers, to provide personalized service, and to engage customers, but with the right marketing software and feedback tools, it’s possible.
It’s also worth the effort to keep your customers (aka the friends of potential new customers) happy. After all, surveys show that people are 4 times more likely to buy when they are referred by a friend.
2. Create a referral program
If you are looking to increase your number of business referrals, you may consider building a referral program and offering incentives. How you reward the people that referred new customers is largely up to you. You will need to consider what fits within your budget, which approaches you deem ethical, and what the data says your customers respond most positively to.
When in doubt, or as a trial run, consider rewarding your customers with free services. If your customers are referring clients to you because they love your services, chances are they will be motivated by free services.
3. Celebrate referrals
Referrals can come from happy customers, online users, employees, and more. You never really know the extent of your company reach. That’s why it’s important to create a culture of celebration for referrals at your work.
Any time you receive a new prospect through a referral, celebrate it. You can make a big deal about it by offering a spiff incentive, acknowledging it publicly, connecting in a real and human way by talking about how you both know the referrer, mentioning the good news in your company newsletter, talking about it on social media, blogging about it, sending a thank you card to the referrer and a welcome note to the new customer, etc.
It’s less important what you do to celebrate, than that you do celebrate. The more you show your loyal followers that you care about referrals, the more you create an environment to welcome referrals.
4. Focus on gathering positive online reviews
Did you know that people trust virtual strangers and real friends the most when it comes to product and service reviews?
This means it’s just as vital for your company to collect several positive online reviews as it is to hope customers to promote your company by word-of-mouth.
Since you never know when you might get a referral from an online review, your company needs a powerful online presence.
You can accomplish this by investing in a software that helps you with reputation management, and dedicating a team member to the job.
With the help of reputation management software, you can receive alerts when someone makes a positive or negative mention of your company. Then, your company reputation manager can address that praise or concern personally.
5. Provide support where you can
Sometimes all your company’s biggest fans need is a little support from you. Consider offering your customers some business cards, a brochure, or a referral card with a code on it to pass along to friends. If your customers have something tangible to give to potential customers, your chances of success increase.
Similarly, you should keep company swag on hand. There is a reason why companies hand out pens, frisbees, t-shirts, stress balls, and other sorts of promotional items at business fairs and to existing customers. Swag can often act as a referral and aid in conversions.
It’s no secret that referrals are valuable, so take the time to invest in referral promoting strategies.