Ask any small-to-medium business owner where most of their work comes from and many will point to “referrals”. Recommendations from others, referrals remain one of the simplest yet most powerful ways to grow your business. This trend seems timeless and unlikely to go away anytime soon!
People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. – Mark Zuckerberg
While it is true that clients who are happy with your agency’s work may refer your services to others, but to keep it consistent, you will need a process in place. We have put together five easy steps that can help boost your agency’s client referrals:
Develop Client Referrals Programs
Referrals these days come in many shapes and sizes. Although word of mouth is great, but for the sake of consistent business, you need to start a formal program in your agency as well. A well-organized referral program can get you loyal customers at a very low cost.
These referral programs incentivize happy customers to share their feelings in exchange for gifts, which could be monetary or non-monetary. It also brings loyal customers, as proven by the Harvard Business Review. You can develop a referral program in the following ways:
- First, be realistic about what your agency can offer as incentives, monetary or otherwise.
- Take advice from your managerial staff, partners, and other stakeholders about the kind of incentives you should offer.
- Analyze each incentive with its pros and cons, including cost to company and your return on investment.
- Be aware of your window of opportunity and its duration. It is the period when clients feel fresh about your services, and have seen positive results. This could be from the time they get to know about your services until 75 percent of their application is complete.
- Set a timeline to begin and end the referral program. This will let clients know the program is a limited offer and make them more proactive.
- Once the program is ready, share it on your agency’s website, social media, as well as email existing clients and others in your network.
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Provide Exceptional Service
Before you make the referral program public, this is the most crucial step you will need to consider. To get referrals, you have to ensure that your agency’s services are exceptional. No one will recommend a mediocre service, regardless of how good the incentives are.
Whether you prefer to use word of mouth referrals or a referral program to attract clients, it will only work if your services are top notch. Remember, clients will be recommending your services to their friends and family, who will trust their advice.
For instance, let us assume that your agency’s services are mediocre, but you create an amazing referral program with irresistible incentives. In the first phase, when people are only looking at the incentives, the program may work well, but what happens once the recommended clients start using your services?
If they feel your services do not match the offers, then not only will they lose trust in the person who recommended them, but will also decline to refer your services to others. This may even create a negative spin off of word of mouth referrals, especially if the clients are very angry or feel duped. Here are some quick tips to enhance your services:
- Make sure that the services your agency is offering are unique and different from those of your competitors.
- Train your staff extensively to understand how these services work and conduct role-plays to assess their level of commitment.
- Give personal attention to every client. Doing so will help build trust and transparency.
Don’t Wait, Ask For It
It sounds clichéd, but the reality is that many businesses wait for clients to refer their services to others. They shy away from asking for referrals from the fear of hearing “no” from clients. However, think of how much positive impact it will have on your agency’s business when they say “yes”.
If you do not ask for it directly or without a program in place, people will not take out time to refer your agency’s services. The clients have no way of knowing beforehand that you require their references. If you are wondering when the best time to ask for a referral is, the answer is easy. Do it when your clients are at their most positive frame of mind. You can ask for client referrals in plenty of ways:
- I am glad that you are happy with our service. I would really appreciate it if you could refer our agency to people you know. May I leave some extra business cards for you?
- I am glad you like our services. We are always on the lookout for referrals and wonder if you know anyone who is interested in what we have to offer.
- Congratulations for a successful visa application and thank you for the payment! We have some great incentives for referring our services. Please see our referral program.
Use Client Satisfaction Surveys Effectively
Satisfied clients will be more than willing to fill out surveys. Use this opportunity to create a client satisfaction survey. The last question on the satisfaction survey should relate to asking for referrals.
You can ask questions like:
- How would you improve our service?
- If you could change one thing about our service, what would it be and why?
- What is your favorite aspect of our service and why?
- Why did you choose our service?
- Please describe our service in a few words.
- Would you be willing to refer our services to others?
Once your clients have completed the survey, take lead from the last question about referrals. If they answer “yes”, provide them information about your referral program, incentives and other details. Extremely satisfied clients might even be willing to give you a personal letter of recommendation. Keep that option open as well.
Customize Your Messages
When you create a referral program, make sure you promote it everywhere, especially on social media. However, when you ask clients to share the message, make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Prepare messages or templates for the clients, so they do not have to spend time coming up with their own.
By doing this, you will encourage clients to share your message quickly and easily. Most people will not take out the time to write their own messages and then share your program as well, even if they really like your service.
There is no better way to grow your agency’s business than client referrals. It has attributes that everyone loves – personal touch, sense of loyalty, and trust!