A steady stream of customer referrals can transform a struggling business into a profitable one. Crafting an effective customer referral program takes time, but the return on investment can be startling. In fact, a study performed by The Wharton School of Business found that a referred customer is 18 percent more likely to stay with a company over time than the average, off-the-street customer.
Don’t have your customer referral program set up yet? Fear not. Here are five tips (five "T's " actually) that will help you get started right away.
Asking for a referral is a little like asking for a sale. In both cases, timing is everything. Don’t ask for a referral the same day a customer signs up. Instead, wait until you’ve developed a relationship with your customer before approaching the topic.
Once you’ve asked, consider waiting months or even a year to ask again. Constant pestering could inspire your customer to go to a competitor.
2. Twice the benefit
Once you have your ask delivery down, narrow in on specifics. The best customer referral programs are those that benefit the referrer and the referee. These are the types of programs that a referrer is more likely to talk about and not feel bad touting to their friends.
Worried that you’ll be giving too much away? Throw those concerns out the window and know this: creating a culture of referrals will transform customers into enthusiastic advocates for your brand. The more they refer, the better visibility you will receive and, over time, the more sales you will attract.
What should you give away in your referral program? Two words: serious value. Most customers will want a monetary-related gift such as a discount on future products/services, gift cards to a favorite shopping spot or cash. As you start your program, try all three to see which one generates the most interest.
Asking a customer for a referral is one thing; delivering on your promise once they’ve successfully referred is another thing entirely. This process can sometimes takes weeks, months or years for a client to come through. Make it a practice to ask each new client how he or she learned about your company and then follow-up with the referrer (and your new client) to administer your referral gift in a timely manner.
Tracking can be difficult when you have a large number of clients. Ease the pain by using a customer relationship management (or CRM) system to stay on top of your referrals.
Don’t forget to say thank you each time a referral is successfully competed. Work to nurture your relationship with the referrer and referee. You never know, they may refer again.
Yaniv Masjedi is the vice president of marketing at Nextiva, a leading provider of cloud-based, unified communication services. Yaniv manages the firm's marketing and branding efforts by working to create strategies that drive awareness, strengthen the Nextiva brand and share the company's unique customer-centric culture (dubbed "Amazing Service"). His responsibilities also include brand management, demand generation, advertising, marketing communications, nurturing programs and thought leadership.