A phrase you’ve likely come across many times online, ‘we receive most of our work from word of mouth referrals’, may make you wonder how they do it. Alternatively, it may make you wonder if they actually do receive most of their work from word of mouth recommendations from the ‘many satisfied customers’ they proudly serve.
How seriously you take what you read on business websites is naturally up to you, nevertheless, it can’t be denied that word of mouth referrals are inherently important for any business. A 2012 study conducted by Nielsen, the Global Trust in Advertising report, found that 92 percent of consumers trust referrals made by family and friends more than any other type of referral or any variety of advertising.
And in another more recent study, 64 percent of marketing executives surveyed believe word of mouth marketing, often abbreviated as WOMM, to be marketing in its most effective form. Despite the great showing of industry support for word of mouth marketing, just 6 percent of those executives surveyed claimed to have mastered it.
But word of mouth referrals and marketing are big business and the statistics speak for themselves. Here’s another notable statistic relating to WOMM – 58 percent of consumers who use social media actively share their experiences and ask their connections for their opinions of various brands (SDL, 2013). And there’s more.
72 percent of those surveyed said that reading positive online customer reviews increased their trust in the business, and a remarkable 88 percent ‘have their reasons for trusting online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts.’ (BrightLocal, 2014).
These are remarkable figures that highlight the importance of getting your customers to talk about your business, products and services in a positive light. So how should you go about getting your customers to refer your business? That’s the big question.
Don’t be afraid to ask
A common misconception about word of mouth referrals is that consumers are just so happy about the service they’ve received or the products they’ve bought that they immediately get online or on the phone and start telling the world about their wonderful experiences. That happens, but it isn’t the way most referrals come about.
Most referrals come about because the business has provided the customer with the impetus and the motivation to refer them to other people. Yes, people discuss their experiences in everyday conversation, and yes, those referrals are acted upon in some form or fashion, but if you really want to make WOMM work for your business, you have to ask your customers for referrals. This means you should never be afraid to ask.
Incentivise your customers to take action
Giving your customers a reason to refer your business to others is a fine art. A good point to make about incentivising your customers into providing you with word of mouth referrals is to not wait until after you’ve delivered the product or service before asking them, but instead bring referrals into their expectations right from the start.
This therefore entails telling your customers right from the outset that you intend to provide them with outstanding customer service standards and that your business is reliant upon their word of mouth referrals. It may seem a little unorthodox from a marketing standpoint, but as mentioned earlier, just 6 percent of all marketing executives surveyed claim to have mastered the art of word of mouth marketing.
Use social media to build a community and target what are now known as ‘key influencers’, people who frequently broadcast their opinions on social media and have accumulated a number of ‘friends’ or ‘followers’. You need to have the technical infrastructure in place that makes it easy for your customers to make referrals and share your content online, but that’s easy and once you’re set up the rest comes naturally.
Creating a referral program is another great way to incentivise your customers to tell their friends, family and colleagues about your business, plus doing so creates an infrastructure that’s easy to monitor and improve upon.
These programs offer many excellent benefits and are at their most effective when they benefit both the referrer and the referee. Should you implement a referral program effectively, you can take advantage of a continuous cycle that’s constantly bringing in new customers, significantly reduce marketing expenditure, and focus your efforts on customers you know to be satisfied with your products and services.
There’s no end of incentives you can offer, but be imaginative and make your incentives appealing. Offering a meagre discount on products and services is no longer the way to go, so offer them something they have need of or want. Or do something completely different, like offering to make a donation to a charity.
Provide great customer experiences
Among the best ways to significantly increase the number of word of mouth referrals your business receives, providing your customers with great experiences isn’t only great for gaining new customers, but also cementing loyalty among your current customer-base.
There are many ways in which you can provide outstanding customer experiences, a number of which are often overlooked by business owners, like ensuring your current and future customers are always able to speak to someone when they call.
What happens when your phone lines are busy or you’re out of the office? What about after hours and on weekends? Failing to have someone answer the phone when your customers call definitely isn’t the way to deliver the kind of experiences that result in favourable word of mouth referrals.
By utilising our call handling services, Netcall Solutions can help you deliver better customer service experiences, one of the greatest driving factors in the significantly increasing word of mouth referrals. Our team of experienced, highly trained and personable receptionists operating out of our modern UK call centre are particularly adept at delivering excellent over the phone experiences, and can certainly help you in conveying a more favourable impression of business to your important customers.