Customer referrals on Friday 13th?

Today isn’t a great day for anyone who is superstitious.  In fact they are probably reading this with their fingers crossed, making sure no umbrellas get opened in the office and watching out for black cats!

Even if our beliefs aren’t that extreme, we probably all feel like sometimes we are luckier than others.  For many business owners and sales people, getting customers to give referrals can feel like it’s all about luck.

I’m not going to argue about whether or not it is down to luck, but there are certainly factors that influence the number of referrals we receive that are outside our direct control.

However, there are some factors we can control and understanding them and working on them can help motivate some customers to give a referral.  If you’ve ever undertaken a customer survey (if not, why not?), you’ll probably have discovered that many of your customers have a positive view of your business, services and products, but a quick look at your sales pipeline will show that they aren’t actively promoting you to other people they know.

So what can we do to help convert that latent goodwill into action?  Here are 4 tips for you to consider:

  1. Test how strong your customer goodwill really is.  A net referrer index identifies the proportion of really positive customers, net of neutral or negative customers.  It’s a tougher measure of satisfaction and a better predictor of referrals.  If you prefer, it’s a way of measuring how special your product or services are.
  2. Prompt your customers.  It never hurts to ask customers to refer you – gently of course, but just ask customers if they know anyone else who might like to find out about your business.  Many people will enjoy being able to suggest a good product or service to friends, family and colleagues.
  3. Educate your customers.  Sometimes customers don’t know how to make a referral.  You can suggest ways in which they could make an introduction, or signs they could look for that indicate an opportunity for your business.
  4. Thank them for their referrals.  Whether it’s a simple hand-written card in the post, a phone call or a gift voucher, find an appropriate and meaningful way to thank those customers who do make a referral, and you’ll generally find they will make more.

And even if you do believe customer referrals is all about luck, can I remind you of the famous golfing quote (attributed to various champions) “the more I practice, the luckier I get”