Blaise Pascal, French philosopher made the observation back in the 17th century that ‘Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.’ I feel this still applies now, maybe now more than ever!
Referrals and word-of-mouth are crucial to growing your business, irrespective of the industry in which you operate. Think of your customers as brand ambassador’s – if they have a good experience then they are likely to recommend you to their own colleagues, friends and contacts. But just remember, an unhappy customer is also highly likely to announce their dissatisfaction to the broader public.
A survey of 1000 individuals in the US by Dimensional Research, Sponsored by ZenDesk, revealed that ‘95% of respondents who have had a bad experience said they had told someone about it, compared to 87% who shared a good experience.’* Although there isn’t a similar study in the UK, it would be reasonable to assume that the findings would be mirrored here.
Social media has provided a great platform for promoting good experiences but at the same time venting frustrations. It is yet another reason to have an online presence to manage both the positive and negative posts and proactively respond. By having an open dialogue with customers it is possible to turn around a negative situation and resolve it for everybody’s benefit.
It is possible to give clients an incentive for making referrals by setting up a scheme. The reward could be a gift, or a discount on future purchases. These are often worthwhile as they often cost less than advertising and can be easy administered.
I addition, testimonials are a great way to demonstrate the abilities of both you and your business, and provide credibility with real life examples. Gather testimonials, and build the task into your work flow. Every time that you successfully complete a project then collect a testimonial from your happy client. Even better if you can get photos too!
Many of my clients are afraid to ask their own customers for testimonials for fear of getting the response ‘I’m too busy’. But all you really need is a short quote based on their experience, be it a sentence or a paragraph, and permission to mention them and their business by name. It is free advertising for them so a win/win situation.
Try and encourage your customers to recommend you or simply say a few kind words. Any endorsement will bring with it new customers with the confidence to do business with you. And don’t forget to return the favour!