With 70% of buying experiences based on how customers feel they are being treated, do you think you are referable? Are you delivering way beyond what you have promised? If you’re getting in new business as a sales person or new opportunities and promotions as a corporate professional, your answer will be a resounding yes. But if it’s not, read on because it can be!
Being referable is simple but it’s definitely not easy. It takes continuous commitment towards and insight into your customers and stakeholders, to earn their credibility and trust – which, according to Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising report, is the holy grail of successful word-of-mouth recommendations – also aptly referred to as ‘earned advertising’ – or what I like to call your personal branding campaign!
So where do you start if you’re looking to earn a referral, promotion or new business?? Well firstly, according to Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Referrals, you need to demonstrate a list of qualities that your target audience deems to be referable. Among his top list are living up to your claims (trust), demonstrating improvement (value), acting rapidly (responsiveness) and recommending people to your key stakeholders when appropriate (reciprocity). I have always emphasized the importance of reciprocity in networking and it applies here just as much – you need to build mutually beneficial relationships by helping others wherever you can before you call in favours. Ultimately, it’s a two-way street – give referrals to get referrals. From a career perspective, this also means making other people look good –praising a stakeholder or giving positive feedback to your colleague’s boss may be a hard pill to swallow initially but it goes a long way towards setting yourself up for long-term success.
Secondly, you need to prioritise solving problems and putting solutions in place. Trust me when I tell you that delivering value every step of the way with your customer is much more important than selling to them on a once-off basis because your approach will ensure that they return time and time again. Even in the corporate world, if you keep showing up for your colleagues, they will keep turning to you for help – and this makes you indispensable and completely promotable!
You need to think long-term here and lead with value – you’ll create more value this way and become referable much sooner. Wharton School of Business backs this up with research stating that the lifetime value of a referral customer is 16% higher than the average customer. And according to Forrester, it’s for this reason that 72% of businesses have ‘improving customer experience’ as their top priority. In fact, this will overtake price and product as key differentiators within the next few years, as stated by Walker. The reality right now in most businesses though, is a bit different. Traditional marketing and technology leadership both need to change meaningfully to give customers what they are looking for – and the pressure is on to find fast, flexible solutions that can continuously adapt to ever-evolving consumer expectations. If you can position yourself at the forefront of finding and delivering new value, you’re guaranteed to find referral opportunity.
Now is clearly the time for you to be figuring out what will make your customers’ experience truly unique. Think about how well you know their needs, solve their problems and engage with them – and then think about how you can you leverage your process to create memorable moments that they both remember and share with others. There are endless ways in which you can delight your customers and believe me when I tell you that it’s generally always in the small details – how you made them feel, whether or not you followed up on their experience and if you left them with a moment of impact – a rare and valuable interaction that they will remember you in time for. When it comes to customer experience, it is all about making them feel good – both inside and outside of an organisation – we’re all wired in the same way.
RightNow indicates that 89% of consumers stop doing business with a company after a poor experience. Of course, to understand and influence this in your business means that you will need to monitor and track customer satisfaction. I can tell you that there are many ways in which you can do this but let me give you a shortcut – the simplest way to find out how you customers feel and what they want by is to ask them. Get to know the people your business – or your role – depends on and understand what their moments of impact with you were – then take those moments and replicate them again and again. This, guaranteed, will amplify their delight, get them to spread the word and ensure they keep returning with repeat business – whether that takes the form of a huge sales order or an incredible promotion!
It’s both as simple and as difficult as that but once you’ve earned your word-of-mouth advertising, you will never look back – your personal branding campaign will keep taking you to new heights. If it doesn’t, you need to read this article again.