Despite all the smart tools and technology that marketers have at their disposal today, there’s one old technique that’s hard to beat: word of mouth.
A referral from family, a friend, colleague, or neighbour goes a long way. According to a report from Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know.
And it’s not just referrals you should be focusing on. 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. If you’re not yet collecting reviews for your business or practice, it’s time to make a start.
So, how can you encourage referrals and reviews?
Your number one referral tactic
There’s no getting away from it – the single best thing you can do to encourage more referrals is to provide an exceptional level of service.
The better job you do, the more satisfied your customers (or patients) will be. And happy customers say positive things.
Of course, there are strategies you can put in place to nudge and prompt customers to recommend you, but word of mouth is an organic thing. Do your job well and you should see referrals coming in naturally.
But what about when you want to take it up a level?
Requesting referrals and reviews
Most business owners fail to ask for referrals and feedback because they’re not sure how to communicate the request to their customers. With a little thought and some forward planning, there are a couple of easy ways you can overcome this hurdle.
(1) Automate the request
Adding the request to a follow-up email or text may feel less intrusive for the customer. It’ll also give you a way to track and measure the effectiveness of your campaign.
(2) Use a script
By training your staff to use a script, it will eventually become habit for them. That’ll take the pressure off you and make for an easier and more consistent approach.
Timing is everything
Whether you make your requests in person or you automate them, you’ll have more luck when your customer is feeling satisfied with the service you’ve provided.
Can you send a follow-up email to customers who’ve left a positive review? Or mentioned their experience with your business on social media? Can you catch customers just as they’re leaving, when they’re feeling satisfied with a job well done?
Incentivising referrals and reviews
If you’re ready to push ahead with a more strategic referral scheme, it’s worth considering how you could offer incentives to customers who take part.
- Mini rewards, such as discounts or free gifts, when a referral is sent
- A higher value reward when a referral is successful
- Ongoing rewards that encourage loyalty
- A reward to the new customer as well as the referrer
- Loyalty rewards to further satisfy your most valuable customers
However soft or strategic your approach, collecting reviews and referrals should be part of the plan. It can be one of the easiest ways to win new business, and it’s certainly a very cost-effective marketing tactic.