Of all the ways we work to get new customers, the referral is the most successful. Companies with referral programs report higher conversion rates, quicker sales cycles, and higher lifetime value of that referred customer. A referral means your customer(s) are so happy with the product or service you provide that they become your sales representatives.
So how does a small business get more referrals? In addition to having a referral program where you are actively soliciting for them, you first have to start the beginning: great customer service.
Great Customer Services Is Listening
The key to every successful business is knowing your customer. Small businesses interact with their customers face-to-face, and owners and managers like you are in the weeds every day which gives you more insight into your customer’s’ needs. But don’t fall into the trap that so many small businesses do and think you hear all the feedback straight from the mouths of your customers. After all, who likes giving negative input face-to-face?
So regularly seek feedback through anonymous surveys on every aspect of your business; from your website, to your customer service representatives, to street parking and make any course corrections quickly. Customers will see you’re taking action on what you heard and will share the news.
Great Customer Services is Flexible
Nothing makes customers quite as mad as “no.” As a small business, you don’t have the bureaucracy or red tape as your larger competitors. This is a competitive advantage and one that will absolutely make your customers love you. But flexibility is a little more difficult if you have a larger staff. You’ll need to empower a staff you can trust and then train them on how to get to “yes” without making you go out of business. That will require a basic framework or rules, processes and policies, and actively teaching them how to know when and how to deploy alternative payment options, for example, or update a service agreement.
There’s always a solution to any customer problem, you just need to train yourself and your team to learn how to solve them so your customers can confidently refer others.
Great Customer Service is Respect
Respect covers the gamut of great customer service. For example, respect your customers enough not to waste their time. This translates into something as simple as making it easy to find your address or contact information on your website to being flexible enough to solve their specific problems. Respect also means keeping your promises. Whatever it takes, you need to fulfill the promises on which you sold your customers. No exceptions! When customers feel respected, they know you’re taking care of them, which is ultimately what leads to a referral in the first place.
Regardless of the size of your business, what you sell or how you sell it, great customer service will get your customers selling for you. Just don’t be afraid to ask.