Building an effective referral strategy is vital to overall business growth.
Don’t believe me?
According to Forbes magazine, brands that provide superior customer experience bring in 5.7 times more revenue than brands that lag behind. Additionally, the same article states that loyal customers are four times more likely to refer a friend to a company.
Not only do happy customers refer their friends, but those referrals are quality leads. Another Forbes article shows survey results that say 78% of B2B marketers state referrals generate good to excellent leads. In the same survey, 54% said that referral programs have a lower cost-per-lead than other channels.
Referral strategies really work. And, most businesses like referrals because the potential customer already comes in with a positive view of the company.
Using Systems to Build a Better Referral Strategy
Not all businesses think about referrals strategically. Some work with the attitude that if referrals happen, then they happen. That laissez-faire approach means that the company without a referral strategy is losing business every day from easy-to-close customers.
However, most businesses have some kind of loyalty program or follow-up strategy to try to stay top of mind for their customers. They ask for reviews – and they get a fair amount of referrals.
Whether you have no strategy or a follow-up system is in place, your team can do more to gain referrals and have happy customers contact you again and again. The way to do this is to drill down and systematize every detail of the customer experience.
Examine every touchpoint during a transaction.
Think of referrals as a reflection on every interaction your business has had with a customer. Could you improve each touchpoint – and perhaps even increase the amount of helpful communication given to every customer?
Take a look at the initial communication, whether it be over the phone, online, or in person. Do your employees have policies they follow to ensure they project the image you want?
How does the entire transaction commonly go? If the customer’s interaction is extended, do they get notifications along the way? Or do they order something and then not hear from you until the item or service is delivered – potentially months from the initial contact?
Consider the transaction as if you were the client. Would you be happy with your experience, or would you be vaguely annoyed? What would make you happier?
Finally, consider how the transaction is completed. Does your team ensure the customer is satisfied and ask for reviews? Do they try to correct any dissatisfaction before the review step comes into play?
Consider touchpoints after a transaction.
After a transaction, does your team just move on to the next project or client? Is the previous happy customer forgotten, or do they get followups with a “thank you” gift, newsletter, postcard, or something else? Are they put on a drip system so that you remain top of mind?
Some companies count on social media to do the work of the drip system. But, as we saw by the recent Facebook and Instagram outages, we can’t always rely on systems built and controlled by other companies to communicate with our clients.
Systematize each step, from initial customer contact to customer experience – all the way to follow up after a transaction is complete.
Considering the entire arc of a customer’s experience with your company can be a lot of work, so we recommend creating systems for each step of the way. This builds consistent experience right into your business model and company culture.
Additionally, the act of creating systems is often one of documentation. You and your team do not need to reinvent the wheel. You simply need to create processes and procedures that reflect the best of what your employees already do.
For example, systematizing initial contact could consist of first creating a policy about how a receptionist should handle initial contact. This could be as easy as documenting that “we always answer the phone with a smile so that customers feel welcome.” Then the receptionist could record themselves answering the phone with a smile and answering the phone with a frown. They can listen to hear the difference. Share the policy and provide step-by-step instruction so that your employees grasp why a process or procedure is in place. This makes implementation much easier.
Set up automations.
Most of what we discussed in this article involves one-on-one interaction between a team member and a customer. However, one should not discount the many available automations.
Not only can automation take some pressure off of your staff, but they can also ensure things like drip campaigns happen on time, every time. If you have been examining where customer communication and follow-up could be improved, you likely know which areas could be automated and which need a personal touch.
Don’t get caught up in making every single interaction with a client into a personal interaction. Sometimes, quick, efficient automation is more effective.
Here’s an example, 3G cell phone towers are in the process of being shut down, which means that people on old 3G plans need to be switched over to 4G or 5G by providers. Instead of having an individual team member at a major provider personally contact everyone still using 3G, they can (and likely are) use an automated system to facilitate the switch.
Would it be nice to have an individual contact everyone personally? Probably not in that case, because the customer will likely just want to get their new phone and be on their way.
Should they have an option to speak with a representative? Absolutely. The customer may have questions or may need some additional help with the switch.
Systematize referral sales.
Finally, after reconsidering all of your customer experience, it’s time to look at referrals themselves. Do you handle referrals differently from other clients, or could they benefit from your new client experience system?
Sometimes a referral sale should be handled differently. You may need to include sending a “thank you” message or gift basket to the customer who referred the new client. If your business is B2B, the referral may be a past customer’s existing client – which could mean that you have to include both parties in all initial communication.
Examine the processes for referrals, from initial contact through the entire sales and customer experience process. What needs to be modified – and what can stay the same?
At the end of every referral transaction, your goal is to not only provide the customer with an excellent experience – but to turn that person into another referral source. Reverse engineering from that goal can be a valuable way to understand what steps need to be included in your business systems to ensure such excellent customer satisfaction that they refer out to your company.
There are many ways to look at and systematize customer experience and leverage great experiences to gain referrals. How your business accomplishes this is one of the things that make your company unique.
If you are ready to systemize your customer experience and referral strategies, contact Business Success Consulting Group. We help businesses in every industry systematize processes and procedures to ensure an excellent customer experience.