It almost goes without saying – but I’m going to say it anyway. The number one way to ensure quality referrals is to give great service to begin with. The happier your customers are, the more likely they’ll gladly and freely refer their friends and colleagues to you. Here are six tips for making sure your current customers are as pleased as possible:
1. Provide a way for customers to contact you. Whether it’s a phone number or an email address, have customer service contact information and make it easy to find on your website. There’s nothing more frustrating from the customer’s side of things than to have issues and not have a way to get them resolved. Bonus: Customers will feel more comfortable about purchasing from you or doing business with you if they know they can easily reach you if something goes wrong.
2. Set expectations. If you’re a solopreneur and only check email between 9-10 AM, you need to let your customers know that you won’t be on call 24/7. Likewise, if you only answer your phone at certain times, letting clients know beforehand will head off any concerns about non-responsiveness. You can post your “office hours” on your website, or create an outgoing message or autoresponder that lets people know when to expect a response from you (a word of warning: In today’s “microwave” world, anything more than 24 hours is considered long).
3. Respond to issues as quickly as possible. It’s never fun to read or listen to customer complaints, but playing ostrich and hiding your head in the sand won’t make them go away. If anything, the longer you delay, the more irate your customers will be. But answering quickly can actually head off molehills that could become mountains.
4. Underpromise and overdeliver. If you think it will take a day to resolve a customer’s issue, tell them you’ll get back to them in two days – and then surprise them by doing it sooner. Underpromising and overdelivering is a quick path to customers’ hearts.
5. Take the extra step. Do whatever it takes to make the customer happy – then go one more step. Offer a refund before it’s asked for, provide exemplary service, and find ways to thrill your customers. They’ll pay back your efforts in loyalty – and referrals!
6. Hire help. Outsourcing your customer service should be one of the first efforts you make, particularly if you are the sensitive sort who will get your feelings hurt by unsubscribes, refund requests, or complaints.
When you implement these ideas, you’ll see your customer satisfaction and natural referrals skyrocket. And when you combine great customer service with some of the other referral tips, you’ll really experience the landslide effect that will lead only one place – to more clients and more money.