Customer referrals are one of the most powerful endorsements a business can obtain.
Personal endorsements generally carry more weight than other routine marketing channels. While a flashy ad may catch attention and even generate a sale, this sale is not necessarily going to convert to the buyer becoming a loyal customer. Especially if the customer is another business. Only the highest quality of service and products are likely to make this conversion, planting the seeds to growing a solid and lasting relationship. Buyers that do not become repeat customers are probably less likely to share their experiences.
Most marketers know customer referrals are effective, but QuickLinkt, a Canadian-based company that provides automated solutions, points out just 28 percent of marketers leverage customer referrals.
Does your business effectively focus on referrals?
Power of B2B customer referrals
Offering top quality products and service gives your business a higher chance of receiving good promotion through word-of-mouth. This type of referral is one of the best endorsements your company can receive. Ultimately, it is also more probable you can generate even more business when others come knocking on your door in hopes of receiving the same exemplary service.
“Your current and prior customers are your biggest assets. These individuals are already aware of your expertise, have experienced your work, respect you and your team, and hopefully, like working with you,” says Dave Hubbard, CEO of Marketing Outfield, in an article on Business 2 Community. Hubbard also states, “It’s three times easier to secure a customer that was referred than to secure a new one.”
For the B2B company, the same theory applies; you want to expand your network and build on these relationships. North Shore Bank points out if a customer is also a business, they also know their competitors, customers and vendors.
It could be your company has the solution for not only one business, but for many. Businesses don’t waste much time on sentiment, it’s all about reason. They’ll want a solution that works in the most economical and feasible way possible. Securing that valuable referral from a current or former B2B customer is powerful. Through word-of-mouth you can become a trusted “go-to” provider.
Referrals provide tangible value
When customers like the quality of service or product you’ve given them, they’re more bound to tell others about it than if the level of customer experience received was just average. Few will remember mediocrity, but they do recall excellence. Top-performing B2B firms will back up their advertising with solid service and be willing to go the extra smile to meet customer requests or inquiries. In 2010, Texas Tech University reported 83 percent of consumers are comfortable making a referral after a positive experience [PDF].
Offering superior customer service and working solutions are the best way to gain customer referrals as every recommendation has potential to become of tangible value. Remember, people are more apt to trust recommendations from others they know.
Gain valuable feedback from customers
Repeat customers also provide a way for a business to grow. Be sure to follow up on customer experiences to ensure they have been satisfied with the solution you’ve provided. Offer surveys, polls and other feedback opportunities so your customers can share their experiences with you. Use this information to:
- Ensure satisfaction and build stronger relationships
- Improve services
- Discover new ways to create customer satisfaction
- Accept negative feedback as an opportunity to improve
- Use all feedback to chart your destination to excellence
The sales pitch doesn’t end with the transaction. It ends when the customer has experienced complete satisfaction. If achieved, the probability your customers will share their positive experiences with others increases. If so, you’ve got a bona-fide source of referrals.
Excellence in customer experiences will increase business organically. The word-of-mouth spread through referrals is all encompassing ─ it is powerful, complimentary and, most of all, effective.
Flickr photo via Creative Commons