Client referrals are simply the best, aren’t they? When a new customer comes to you for a product or service and they were referred by a current customer – this means you and your business really did an exceptional job! No one would refer a friend or family member to a company they had a terrible or mediocre experience with. So, when you get referral – give yourself a pat on the back!
Word of mouth is one of the best free marketing concepts out there. Studies have shown that it usually costs 6-8 times more to acquire a new customer vs selling to an existing customer.
So, how can you maximize this and build on repeat customers and their referrals? We’re here to give you a few tips on just how to do that.
- Create a database: Whether you have special software for this or just use an excel spreadsheet – make sure you have all of your customers in a database! Make sure it includes any important and pertinent information like their name, address, email, phone number and any special notes if possible it is great to keep notes like: birthday, married, 2 kids ages 6 and 10, loves basketball and BBQ. Why include this kind of info? Because your customers appreciate when you send a birthday card or you ask them how their kids are doing etc. It shows you took time to listen to them and were actually interested in getting to know them. Building relationships with your customers matters! This database will be useful for marketing and touching base with your customers.
- Newsletter: Start a newsletter and stay in touch with your customers. Make sure they provide value. Don’t make them too salesy. Let them know about new blog posts you posted, new products or services you are offering. Be consistent and stay on top of this. Sending a weekly or biweekly newsletter keeps your name in their inbox and keeps your business on their minds. For tips on starting a newsletter, you can read our recent blog post 3 tips to building your email subscriber list.
- Create a testimonial form (a short questionnaire) and have your customers fill it out when you have completed the sale or service. If you have a website and post testimonials/reviews, ask your customers if they are okay with their testimonial being posted onto your website. (if they have their own business they may love it if you add their business name and link under the testimonial) If you do not have this on your website, let them know you are on YELP and other networks by displaying signage at your location and linking to your profiles on your website!
- Ask for referrals: Using the testimonial form you created, add this question: “do you know of anyone who may be in need of my services?” Then ask for the phone numbers or email addresses of the people they are referring.
- Connect with your customers on social media: Follow and interact with your customers on a few social media platforms. If you see them promoting their own business, help them share it as well – chances are they will do the same for you in return. If they have a website and a blog – pop in and read one of their blogs every now and then and leave a comment (or bring it up the next time you speak to them; for example say “I loved your blog about your recent trip to Australia, your pictures were also so amazing!”)
- Provide outstanding customer service: 70% of the buying experience is based on how the customer feels they are being treated. Make sure your customers are receiving great customer service and listen to their needs.
- Reach out to your customers regularly: Give your customer a phone call or send them a card. Check in on them and see how they are doing. They may end up informing you that they have been meaning to reach out to you for something. Even if they do not, they will still be very thankful that you checked in on them. Customers don’t forget these things!
- Offer a “refer a friend” program: Give your customers an incentive for successfully referring a friend or family member. Discount codes, a free gift or service, a gift certificate etc., is a great way to thank your customers. Some companies send something as simple as a $5 Starbucks gift card – and the customers really appreciate it.
- Give your customer a thank you gift: Along the same lines as the refer a friend program, let your customers know you are grateful they chose YOUR company. Send them a handwritten note with a small gift, % off next purchase, gift card, product sample etc. In the Instagram world we live in, customers will love it and may even give you a shout-out with a picture of their gift, on social media (giving you free marketing in return).
- Remind your customers about services you provide: Sometimes customers don’t know you provide additional services and may end up unintentionally going with someone else. Remind them every so often of the services you provide. For example, maybe you were hired to fix their roof and they didn’t know you could also remodel their kitchen. The customer may had classified you as a roofer and not a “do-it-all” contractor. Unbeknown to them – they may end up searching for another company to remodel their kitchen and you may have lost that business. You can do this many different ways like in your newsletters, stories and pictures on social media, an email or card every couple months or so, etc.
- Exceed Expectations: most companies don’t even meet customer’s expectations, let alone exceed them. Find a way to stand out! Can you upgrade their shipping to 2-day instead of ground? Can you offer a free upgrade on a service? Can you throw in a free service out of the blue? Customers love receiving a random surprise or freebie that was completely unexpected.
- Become a problem solver: This can be challenging at times, especially if you have an angry customer. Make it a goal to turn that around and make sure they feel that you did everything in your power to fix and address their problem. If you can go out of your way to help the angry customer, you may end up turning them into lifetime customers. Don’t ignore complaints.
- Create surveys and feedback forms: Ask your customers how you are doing! Are they pleased with your products or services? What can you do to make their experience better? What are their current needs or concerns? You can use sites like surverymonkey.com to do this or you can create your own and send it via mail or email. When you receive your feedback – take it all in and see where you can implement changes in your business. Don’t take any negative comments personal either! Make sure you thank your customer who took the time to fill it out. When you finally do implement changes – let them know. They will love to hear that their voices were heard.
Growing repeat customers and their referrals is a highly effective marketing strategy. We hope that you can choose at least 2 or 3 of these ideas (or more) and focus on implementing them. Let us know what you think and which ones work best for you. If you have any of your own ideas to share (that are not listed) we would love to hear about it! Just leave us a comment below!