1. Exceed expectations.

Word of mouth is one of the most powerful ways to propel referrals for your company. However, it’s largely dependent on loyalty, which means that this is something you really have to earn. If you want to get your customers (or potential customers) raving about your service, you have to delight them.

Go above and beyond for your customers not just by achieving goals with them, but by sharing their content on social media, citing them in your blog content, and proving to be an indispensable resource for them. Then, the case will be made for you why they should tell their network about the great work you do.

2. Look for opportunities for a positive response.

The best referrals come about after the customer has had an opportunity to experience the value that you’re capable of delivering.

You wouldn’t ask your boss for a raise right after you missed the mark on your monthly metrics, which is precisely why it wouldn’t be appropriate (or effective) to request a referral when you’re under-delivering on what you promised a customer.

To set yourself up for success, keeping your customers up-to-date on the outcomes they achieve using your product or service will make them happy — and they’ll want to spread the word about you. This starts with a successful onboarding process so customers have a clear sense of expectations, timeline, and work required to get to that point.

Consider pairing referral requests with positive customer experiences.

3. Teach Them How to Refer…and Ask!

So you’ve found the optimal time to ask for a referral and have your approach figured out. Great! You’re now faced with the third challenge: teaching customers what to do and helping them do it.

There are three types of referrals you can ask for from your clients:

1. Traditional Referrals

  • This is when you thank your clients for their continued support and ask if they have any friends that could benefit from your services. Depending on your industry, you might be able to incentivize these requests with a referral campaign.

2. Testimonials

  • Even after being referred by a friend, people will still take the time to do research online. Potential customers get to hear from actual customers, in their own words, what working with you is like.

3. Online Recommendations and Reviews

  • While this doesn’t directly put a new lead in your hands, reviews and recommendations on your site and third party sites are essential for your business. 85 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Make sure you have reviews for potential customers to find.

Finally, be sure your call to action is clear. For example, “please leave me a review on my Yelp page about our time working together.”

  • Did you provide a direct link to where you want customers/clients to go?
  • Are further instructions needed?
  • Did you clearly ask customers what you want them to do?

Improving this piece is likely the biggest improvement you can make in your referral process

4. Keep existing customers engaged.

The previous tips touch on delighting the customer and making the ask at a high point. Therefore, it stands to reason that you should be continually providing high points throughout the customer experience (and even well after if you provide one-time services or purchasing experiences).

That means that you should continue investing in each relationship you make in your business, providing ways to keep them engaged with your brand so that you continue to remain top of mind.

This can be done by:

  • Staying in touch post-sale and nurturing the relationship into a long-term connection
  • Continuing to provide value, whether it’s through additional offerings, helpful and informative content, or semi-frequent check-ins
  • Providing an ongoing community or sharing a set of values (such as an altruistic cause)

5. Distribute your content and resources.

According to Google’s Zero Moment of Truth study, the average buyer now engages with more than 10 pieces of content before making a purchasing decision. This means that before your existing leads closed into customers, they weren’t being shy about eating up all of those resources you’ve worked hard to put out.

This places a profound emphasis on the importance of strategically distributing that content to ensure that it lands in the hands of qualified prospects. And considering your potential customers are already consuming your goods, adding an easy referral ‘Share This With a Friend’ link to your automated o er emails or on your thank you pages could help you achieve just that.

Making it easy for your customers to pass along your resources to their qualified connections before they even close will help you stay one step ahead of the game at all times.

6. Act on positive feedback.

In order to accumulate more referrals, you have to prove yourself as referral-worthy. To ensure that you’re meeting (and exceeding) the needs and expectations of your existing customers, it’s important that you’re regularly collecting and acting on their feedback.

SurveyMonkey is an online survey software that makes it easy to whip up and distribute client satisfaction surveys to keep tabs on what you’re doing right (and where you need to improve).

Before you send off a survey, you want to be sure that you’re positioning it in a way that is going to surface the most honest and accurate results. Make sure you’re writing e ective survey questions and choosing the survey types that will best suit your needs.

7. Align with your customers’ values.

Do your research to learn about what your customers truly value before asking them for a referral. Then, you can align your incentive or acknowledgment with those values, and you’ll be able to give them an idea of the impact they’ll have with a referral.

For example, if your customers use your product for nonprofit fundraising, or if you know they’re personally or professionally invested in advocacy for a cause, you could reward them for referrals with a donation in their name. Simple gestures like this can go a long way toward proving to customers that your relationship is a partnership, not just a business transaction.
8. Refer other companies.

If you’re asking a customer to refer people to your business, they may expect the same from you. By offering to refer your customers to other companies, you’ll bring valuable bargaining chips to the negotiation table. Your customers will feel like they’re getting equal compensation for the information they give up.