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How To Turn Your Best Customers Into Referral Machines

3d human sitting on green gears“Do you want more customers?”

I bet if I asked you this question, right now, you would answer: “Yes!”

That is why you invest a lot in building your audience, developing your relationships, connecting on social media, and building your email list.  You are doing all those things to achieve one goal: To keep your business healthy by constantly adding new customers.

You want to invest your time and effort where you know you will find your best prospects. But how, exactly, will you find those best prospects?

One of the best ways to find them is to enlist your existing customers to find them for you. And your existing customers will be happy to do this – if you provide them with an extraordinary experience.

How to Provide an Extraordinary Experience to Your Existing Customers

What does extraordinary customer service look like? Let’s take Disney as an example, because they understand this concept pretty well.

At Disney, the mantra is: “If you see a kid crying, you have to stop what you are doing, go over and fix the situation ASAP.”

Let me tell you a story. A family was visiting Disney World, and their kid was crying. An employee went up to the parents and asked what the problem was.

The problem was that the kid had missed Peter Pan.  And the kid was very upset.

The employee tried to fix the situation by giving a balloon to the kid.  In the meantime, he also asked some information about the family. Where were they staying? Where did they come from? When were they planning to head back home?

After that hard day, the family got back to the hotel.  In their room, there was a surprise for the kid.  It was a Peter Pan doll with a handwritten note from Peter Pan himself reading: “Hey, I’m so sorry I missed you!  The thing is I had to leave, because Captain Hook was giving trouble somewhere else.”

The kid got a smile back on his face, and the whole family was so impressed and happy that their next four vacations were at Disney.

Where do you think this family would refer you to if you asked them where you should go on vacation?

Extraordinary experiences like this one make customers spread the word.

Extraordinary experiences like this one turn your customers into referral generators.

So now the question is: how do you create these extraordinary experiences?

5 Ways to Receive More Customer Referrals

Referral #1: Create an Online Community

An online community is a place where your customers can connect with each other and  talk about their struggles – and their successes. It’s also a place where they can find solutions to their problems – either directly from you, or from their fellow community members.  If you provide a good experience, they will invite their friends and colleagues to join your community.

For example, recognize individual contributions from members by mentioning their work or by giving him something that the community perceives as valuable, like inviting them to write a guest post on your blog.

By doing recognizing your community members, you will open the door for more business than you can handle.

Referral Experience #2: Be a Welcome Guest

Think about how many cold emails you receive every day.   If you had the chance, you would only check emails that come from people you know, like and trust – people who you consider as welcome guests in your inbox.

By sending a cold email, you become an unannounced or unexpected guest. And, the chance that you will get a customer from that type of strategy is very low.

Instead of working hard to get the attention of someone who doesn’t know you, make better use of your time by nurturing your existing relationships with your existing customers. Become a trustworthy person by knowing what their needs are, and showing them that you can help them solve their problems.

On other words, show that you know what your customers expect from you – and that you know how to exceed those expectations.

Once you do, getting referrals from your existing relationship with your customers will become easier because you will be perceived as a welcome guest.

Referral Experience #3: Establish an Ongoing Relationship

Many entrepreneurs are focused on making the first sale to a new client.  And once they complete that sale, they just move on to the next one.  By doing that, you ignore the lifetime value of your customer. This is a huge mistake!

Your ultimate goal is an ongoing relationship with your customers that brings value to them, and referrals to you. If your customers perceive real value in your relationship, they will share that with their peers.  And you will profit from the power of word-of-mouth recommendations.

Never forget that, on its own, a transaction is a one-time event. When you focus on making the sale, you become a pushy seller. No one will refer a pushy seller.  You need to have your outcome in mind: It’s a long-term relationship, not a one-off transaction.

Build your relationship by offering your current clients great value. This could be exclusive previews of new products, a blog post you’ve written that targets their particular problem, or even just a shout-out in your emails or social media. Whichever way you choose to provide value, do it consistently, and often.

Do not fall into the trap of selling something in every other email that you send to your list. The consequences of this strategy are simple: you only get a one-time sale and a high rate of unsubscribers from your client base list.

This is about holding the relationships as sacred as they deserve to be.

The result will be repeated sales from the same customer, and most importantly, you will be the first person your customer thinks of when someone they know needs a service like yours.

Referral Experience #4: Ask for Referrals

Did you know that each of your customer has the potential of referring 52 other customers? How many do you think they would refer of their own volition?

Even if they had an extraordinary experience with you, only a  few of your customers will refer business to you on their own.

Increasing this number is all about asking your customers to refer you. Remember that a prospect from a referral is 90% sold on your service.

The best strategy I’ve found to ask for referrals is to give your best customers something valuable that they can, in turn, give away to their friends. It could be a strategy session, a short training video, or a free product demo. Trust me, most of them will give it to their friends!

This strategy works because your customers don’t want to feel selfish, so they share with their friends. And for you, it’s a way to ask for referrals without asking.

Referral Experience #5: Communicate with Your Customers After the Transaction

The most important things for humans are: feeling important, feeling appreciated and feeling respected. Your customers are no different.

The biggest reason a customer switches to a competitor is not the price, or a better product. The biggest reason is neglect.

Your customer wants to feel appreciated and not taken for granted. Your customers are the core of your business.

Build your business around them. Make your customers feel important by rewarding them for doing business with you or by asking them their opinions in a survey. Communicate with them on a regular basis not only to sell, but also to educate and add value to them. Always consider their needs and desires when you are planning a new product.

Your customers are your most important assets. Treat them as VIPs, and they will be YOUR best assets to get referrals.

Why Do Customers Refer Your Business?

So far, we’ve talked about five ways to encourage your best customers to refer new customers to you. Now that you know how to do it, let’s take a look at why your customers will want to refer your business.

 You may think people refer others simply because they have experienced good customer service. But nothing is further from the truth than that.

People refer for personal gain or to help people they know. People refer to help you (and you need to let them know you need help).

People refer because they trust you. No trust means no referrals.

People refer to build their own social currency and to be seen as the go-to person. People want to look good in the eyes of their peers.

People refer because they know the power of reciprocity: If they help you by referring business to you, there may come a day when you can return the favor.

Good customer service doesn’t make people refer you.

Think for a moment: good service is the minimum standard.  It doesn’t leave a lasting impression.

The only way to turn your existing customers into referral generators is to provide them with an EXTRAORDINARY experience with you.

Provide your existing customers with such an incredible experience that they would be silly not to do business with you again or talk about you and refer you.

Your Existing Customers:  A Gold Mine In Your Own Backyard!

Developing and maintaining a constant flow of new leads is the most important aspect in your business.

But, there is a cost related to any new customer you add to your business. To reduce this cost, you can and should be focusing on getting those new customers from your existing ones.

Your greatest and most cost-effective source of new clients is your existing client list.  They are your best marketing weapons.

Treat these clients like valuable lifelong relationships.  Nurture them and you will reap the benefits. Exceed expectations and existing customers will gladly send new prospects your way.

Stop fighting an uphill and costly battle for your success.  Focus on getting referrals from existing customers and success will follow.

How do you turn your customers into referral machines? Or, if you haven’t yet, how will you start to do so? I’m looking forward to your answers in the comments below!

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