By Lyndsey Hall
From Tripadvisor to Feefo, Trustpilot to Checkatrade, everybody likes a recommendation. If our friends like a restaurant or hotel, we probably will too. If hundreds of people left a review online raving about the service, we assume that we will also receive great service. We even ignore the handful of negative reviews, categorising them as “one-offs” or telling ourselves the reviewer is just being pedantic.
On the other side of the coin, businesses love being recommended by their customers. It’s the cheapest and most convincing method of marketing. As a result, Recommend a Friend schemes are ubiquitous, with various rewards on offer from different companies; a free coffee here, a £10 voucher there.
It’s important to encourage customers to make that recommendation, and to thank them when they do, as they are the reason you have a successful business. Whether it’s a discount, a night in a posh hotel, or tickets to their favourite sport, referrers should be appropriately rewarded if you want them to keep talking about you. Having a simple process in place from the start will help you to make this easier and more successful:
- Inform new clients about your Referral Scheme when they join, include a paragraph in your welcome email or engagement letter.
- Wow them with great, personal service – make them want to talk favourably about you, and give prospects a solid reason to make the move.
- Remind them regularly that they could benefit if they introduce a friend.
On that note, how do you ask for that referral? Lots of people feel uncomfortable asking, or worry about getting a “no”, but getting referrals doesn’t have to be hard work. A little preparation goes a long way:
Get some referral cards printed
Like business cards, these have all your usual contact details as well as a short introduction to your business. For us, this is something along the lines of “Looking for an accountant? We work with small businesses in the South Yorkshire area and could help you save money and grow your business.” This gives potential clients a little insight into your company, as most business cards are very minimalist and serve as a simple reminder of a meeting or conversation. Referral cards are designed for your customers to pass on to friends and colleagues who may have never heard of you. A photo also goes a long way to building trust and allowing them to recognise you if they check you out on Linkedin, or book a meeting in a public place.
Get feedback regularly
Every quarter, or every six months depending on your type of business, send your customers a feedback survey. This will gauge their satisfaction and allow you to pinpoint any small issues and make the appropriate changes. Ask whether they would recommend you to a friend, and if they say yes hold them to it! Send a short follow up email or give them a quick call to say thank you for their feedback, and bring up the subject of referrals again. The more times you ask, the more likely they will be to give you a name or set up a meeting. It doesn’t have to be pushy or aggressive, be casual and polite and you will eventually get that referral.
Get the whole team on board
Share the load and lessen the pressure, while ultimately asking for (and getting) more referrals. Win, win! Rather than tasking one individual or team with the job of generating new business, make it a company-wide responsibility. Whilst having one person in charge of getting referrals and generating new business can be simpler and easier to measure, it also puts a lot of pressure on one person who may not have a strong relationship with every single client. At Knowles Warwick, our accountants each have their own portfolio of clients, allowing them to really get to know each one and build a long-term relationship based on trust and understanding. Therefore, all of our accountants are responsible for asking their own clients for referrals, as no one else knows the business owner or their circumstances quite as well.
How do you encourage your clients to recommend your business? Do you have any tips for successfully gaining referrals? We’d love to hear them, leave us a comment or get in touch on Facebook and Twitter.
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