Customer Referrals Are Not Easy to Gain

“Referrals aren’t given easily. If you don’t take the time to establish credibility, you’re not going to get the referral. People have to get to know you. They have to feel comfortable with who you are and what you do.” – Ivan Misner

Anyone running a business knows that it is no walk in the park! There is so much that needs to be managed and the major chunk would be to meet people, stay in touch with them, get them to see the benefits of your business, and only with time would they become actual buying customers. Gaining customers is a highly cumbersome and time intensive task, requiring tenacity, resilience, and a whole lot of patience. Once you do get customers, you would need to keep them happy such that they work with you and support your efforts to gain more customers – this would happen through referrals. However, just as gaining customers is a herculean task, customer referrals are not easy to gain either – your company must consistently delight customers to encourage them to refer it to others and in a business scenario, everyone knows that delighting customers is possibly one of the toughest tasks.

It is not that businesses do not want to delight their customers. However, despite best efforts there would always be something that would upset customers and make them less than happy – making it tough to not only gain referrals but also to continue the association. Many business owners make the mistake of believing that simply because they provided a referral for someone, they can expect one in return. While reciprocation in business is required, customer referrals and networking do not work this way – it is not a give and take. While the market may be shrinking owing to the surge of companies, there is still enough business and a large base of customers for all. Given the close proximity of companies to each other, it would make sense to build relationships by collaborating and helping one another. This means that if your company hears of any opportunity that could benefit another company, it would make sense to pass on this ‘referral’ to them. This ‘passing on’ of business would gain attention and focus for your business too, and your company would become ‘attractive’ to prospective customers.

While customer referrals are not easy to gain, the goodwill your company can generate in the market and by providing top class service to existing customers will ensure that positive word of mouth and referrals do not remain elusive. It would be important for any company to remain active and in the forefront at all times – this would ensure that someone could take notice and end up contacting the company for business. A great website, for example, will ensure that a casual visitor could end up calling your company for business, or could pass on the information about your company to a friend / business associate who may require the products / service your company has to offer. Since customer referrals are not easy to gain, it makes sense for a company to accelerate its efforts to ensure that it is able to generate such referrals and word of mouth, not just through existing customers, but may be even former customers who may have left on good terms.

While customer referrals are not easy to gain, they are ‘magical’ and highly potent in their ability to accelerate revenue and profits for a company. Customer referrals offer instant credibility and the formation of trust – even the most discerning and careful prospects would be drawn towards a company that has the ‘testimony’ of its existing or former customers. Given the level of difficulty in gaining referrals, it is no wonder then that many business owners are still unable to use it effectively. Also not all referrals are pertinent and of high quality – simply providing a company with the contact information – which seems to be most common type of ‘referral’ – of someone most often ends in disappointment. The true and high quality customer referrals are those where the person referring your company actually speaks about the benefits of doing business with your company, and is able to set up a meeting with the person your company is being referred to. Such a referral breaks down the barriers of apprehensions and any mistrust, making it easier for a company to present their case with a higher chance of success to strike a ‘deal’.

Even though customer referrals are not easy to gain, the great part is that your company does not need to focus on anyone but the persons who would be capable of making referrals. The idea is to have a clear path and vision in play, which ensures that whatever your company does is of such high quality that people are drawn to it and would like to associate with it in any way possible. Gaining customer referrals should be part of the overall business strategy and everyone in the company must work towards making customers their brand advocates who would consistently spread the good word of mouth. The best part is that once a company makes customer service and focus a part of the culture, the process of trying to gain customer referrals will always be in ‘motion’. At any time, a customer could form a new association, who could be someone that would need your company’s products and or services – a referral to more business without even trying. The premise is that your company’s customer service and experiences are always top class such that customers and ‘onlookers’ are unable to think of anyone else but your company to refer.

Customer referrals are not easy to gain but the effort made to get them is worth every bit. Data reveals that customer referrals convert at least 50% of the time and sometimes even more. The company gains a new customer who would already have a lot more faith and trust on the company, making it easier to forge a strong relationship from the word go – and we all know how invaluable customer trust is in the world of business. Another great advantage of customer referrals is that they are free – in so much as a company would gain a new customer or at least get attention from a prospect without investing resources to do gain their attention.

The process of keeping customers happy through top class customer service, high quality products, and competitive pricing is certainly not an easy one. However, mastery over this process can lead to unexpected and unprecedented benefits for a company. Some companies, even while doing everything right, forget to ask for referrals and then wonder why they are unable to increase their business. Customer referrals are not easy to gain also because it is unlikely that customers would remember to or know that your company wants referrals. Your company would need to ask for them and may be even reminding the customer periodically – in case they forget. Asking for a referral is also not easy and many companies still have not mastered the art of doing so – it requires impeccable timing and a thorough understanding of the customer who the company would ask for the referral.

Customer referrals are not easy to gain – this is a given and when a referral does come by, a company must ensure that it does not go to waste. A referral from influential customers would be a company’s best bet. Their referral would carry a ‘lot of weight’ since they would be people highly respected in the business world, and if they believe a company and its offerings are good, then they must be. People would be willing to associate with the company without questioning anything further. Referrals are not a coincidence – they are the ‘fruits’ of the effort put in by a company day in and day out to keep customers happy and only those companies that are truly focused on their customers would be able to gain customer referrals that would be effective and beneficial.

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