Strategies for Encouraging Customer Referrals

Making sure that your business is presented in the best light is no longer simply a question of having a great shop front or website. We now need to make sure that review sites are full of positive comments about our business. But how can businesses attract more positive feedback and customer referrals
The business environment has changed massively over the last five years, and one of the quietest but most profound developments has been the improvement in the process of commenting on service, good or bad. Retailers of every hue are now constantly under the watchful eye of a million smartphones, ever hungry for new content and fresh observations.
A decade ago a complaint about poor service in a restaurant would have involved a few muttered comments to colleagues and friends and possibly, in extreme instances, a strongly worded letter of complaint to a manager. Overall, the influence of a complaint was relatively localised.
At the other end of the scale, people that wanted to praise something generally rhapsodised about it to their friends and colleagues but rarely got around to putting pen to paper. Even when those little “How did we do today?” cards were put out on a counter or presented with the bill, it was rare that we’d fill them in.
Compliments didn’t tend to go very far, but nor did complaints, so in some ways it wasn’t a problem.
Today it’s a different story. Bad service or poor performance can be tweeted live before the dessert’s been served or the packaging’s been opened, but conversely, as review sites mature and become more accepted, positive feedback is also far more visible.
The problem is that most of us turn straight to the one star reviews even when they are outweighed four to one by positive reviews, so it’s important that firms engage with negative reviews and ensure that their impact is watered down with plenty of positive reviews.

4 Techniques to Encourage Customer Referrals

So what are the most effective ways of teasing out positive customer reviews? Here are our four tips:

1. Be Superb

The best way to get positive reviews is simply to offer superlative products or services. Every time. Never drop a beat, never miss an order, always read people right and go the extra mile. It’s difficult, but it’s the most effective way of making sure that customers will leave with a smile and give you the all-important electronic thumbs up.

2. Don’t Fear Negativity

Some negative reviews are inevitable. We all have bad days where we are a notch or two below superb, but what makes a business stand out is how it deals with negative feedback. Making sure that it’s listened to and learned from is the key to making sure that mistakes are not repeated and dissatisfied customers are mollified through regular communication. Having a healthy level of positive reviews is also a good way of making sure that the impact of negative reviews is kept to a minimum.

3. Make It Easy to Express Views

Submitting a referral should be a simple thing. As we discussed earlier, back in the days when we spent half our day writing letters, we rarely got round to writing to say thank you to a restaurant or shop for excellent service because, frankly, it was too much like hard work. These days however, it’s relatively easy to dash off five lines of appreciation on a review site, and it’s an increasingly prevalent habit. Businesses need to look at ways of pointing potential reviewers in the right direction and consider token rewards for doing so.

4. Offer an Incentive to Your Staff

Rewarding your staff for exceptional interactions with your customers is another way of increasing the likelihood that your number of customer referrals will go up. There’s a balance because very few people want to deal with an overenthusiastic customer service representative, but staff that can gauge customers’ moods and their willingness to interact are gold-dust and should be retained. It’s a skill that can be developed and it’s an area where the speed that digital rewards can be issued can really have an impact.

The world has changed and our businesses need to keep adapting to attract and retain customers and staff members. Having an effective way of encouraging positive reviews should be a key strategy for all marketers.

Reward strategies can really help businesses to improve customer recommendations.

Find out more about our customer referral incentive techniques here.