The Customer Referral Program
A customer referral is the call you love to take. Trust—an element critical to a field business—is established before you pick up the phone. And the caller has good reason to believe you can provide the needed service.
Jun 29, 2015
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A business marketing strategy you can’t ignore
A customer referral is the call you love to take. Trust—an element critical to a field business—is established before you pick up the phone. And the caller has good reason to believe you can provide the needed service. There is an excellent chance of converting the lead to a customer. All that, at no cost to you!
Consider word-of-mouth marketing an essential part of your marketing program. Invest a few dollars in a well-structured customer referral program and every job well done becomes an opportunity to grow your customer base.
If you already have a customer referral program in place, it’s time to review it and see if there is room for improvement. If you are starting from scratch, here are some basics to remember:
Structure your reward carefully
The basic element of a customer referral program is a reward. Consider rewarding both the referrer and the new customer. In this two-sided reward system, both parties benefit. Neither appears to be taking advantage of the other. This adds authenticity to the referring customer’s recommendation.
What reward will bring in the most referrals? For one customer, a $30 credit towards service may win the gold ring, while another may prefer a $30 gift card. (Save that box of t-shirts with your logo for the company picnic.) You may want to conduct a customer survey to generate ideas. Then settle on one type of reward or a choose-your-own-reward system.
Decide at what point the reward is earned. Do you reward your customer for the contact information? When a prospective customer contacts you? Or not until after a paid service is performed? For most service companies, the referral is only eligible for a reward when a paid service has been contracted. If you have large volume repeat customers, you might consider a commission on the first year’s business with the new customer.
Get the word out to every customer
Include a request for referrals on every piece of paper coming out of your office, including estimates, invoices, brochures and newsletters. Have a notice posted on the wall at your company.
Spread the word online. Dedicate a page on your website to the referral program and link to it from the footer and on the About Us and Contact pages. Feature the program on your Facebook and LinkedIn company pages and mention it in email newsletters and on Twitter. The beauty of an online statement is how easily it is shared.
Train your field workers and office staff to mention the referral program at the close of transactions. (And reward them for successfully producing referrals.)
Make it easy to participate
Some of your customers will expect to be able to do everything online, others will want to use paper, and some will want to talk to a friendly staff member. Accommodate all.
Have two simple forms on the referral program page on the website, one for the referring customer and one for the new. Offer a printable version for those who don’t want to submit the form online, and include a statement inviting any who prefer to call the office and provide the information.
Keep asking, “Would you recommend us?”
Any customer interaction is an opportunity for a quick customer satisfaction survey. On invoices, when a customer calls the office and on your website, ask, “Would you recommend our service?” followed by “Why or why not?” Use answers, positive and negative, to chart your business’s course.
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