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How to Create a Referral Engine

Referrals are great for business; they are easy to turn into a customer because many times they are pre-sold on you because of all the good things their friend has said about your company. And often they become your best customers.

You love getting referrals, but they probably come in inconsistently. So how do you go about creating a system to consistently get referrals? Below we outline the process you can use to build a referral engine that drives new business.

Teach Them How

Teach people the best way for them to refer you. Make it easy for them to do so; the easier it is for them to refer people to you, the more likely they are to spread the word.

Set the expectation with customers that your company is built on referrals from happy customers, and you depend on them spreading the word. Essentially let them know if they like what you provide, you appreciate them letting other people know about their experience.

Some places may recommend to compensate for referrals, however this can have the opposite effect than intended. It lowers a person’s internal drive for taking action because that action is now driven by an external factor (money, etc.). Being driven by solely money instead of an internal factor (helping a you - a company they love) will likely lower their propensity to refer. External drivers are typically weaker than internal drivers. It is best to let them know how much you appreciate their efforts, as that is what they truly want - recognition of their efforts.

Create Raving Fans

The greatest source of lead generation for us has come from happy customers. A happy customer is much easier to turn into a raving fan than an unhappy one. Now that you’ve set the referral expectation, it is essential that you hold up your end of the bargain and delight the customer.

When you get a compliment, testimonial, or review, take the opportunity to get a referral out of it. Document their thoughts and experience with you.

Give your raving fans a megaphone. Share their experience, and even integrate it into your marketing. Provide them with everything they need to spread the word. It is important you do something to make them feel special to let them know how much you appreciate them. A little bit can go a long way; as simple as a phone call, a handwritten note, or even a little treat.

Systemize Reviews

Reviews are powerful; they provide social proof for potential customers and demonstrate the level of service your company provides.

As mentioned earlier, make it easy for happy customers to review and share your company. There is software that can help you do this. For service based companies, software like Nicejob and Podium integrate with you workflow to send requests for a customer to review your business after the job is complete. Removing any barriers for them to leave a review. The software can even integrate into your marketing to share these reviews.

Top of Mind

Staying top of mind with your current and past clients, along with striving to continuously delight them is essential. This is important to not only creating referrals, but also to drive repeat business from happy customers.

Ensure you are maintaining contact with customers and other referral sources at least once a month. It is important that they do not get ignored, which unfortunately happens quite often. To combat this, create a calendar for staying in contact.

You can maintain contact through an email newsletter or similar. For some referral sources, it can be beneficial to reach out personally over the phone just to check in and see how they are doing. It provides a personal touch and shows extra effort; helping to drive referrals organically.

Final Thoughts

Referrals can be powerful for growing your business. In order to create referrals consistently, you need to teach people how they can refer you, create raving fans by delighting customers, systematically get reviews, and stay top of mind of previous clients.

Cliff Notes Version: Be authentic, provide exceptional service, and always let your customers know how much you appreciate and depend on referrals and you’ll be on your way to getting more referrals.