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The Alternative Board Blog

How to Ask Customers for Referrals

Jun. 7, 2021 | Posted by The Alternative Board
Referral Marketing

Spend all the money in your marketing budget and you’ll hopefully see some favorable results, particularly in new customer acquisition. But this approach will also consume a great deal of time, money, and resources to achieve your goals.

Or you can focus on reaching out for customer referrals, a potential goldmine of new customers. It all depends on how you go about it.

Here are tips for boosting your customer referral efforts:

Make sure your company adheres to the highest levels of customer service.

Before pursuing customer referrals, it’s essential that you and your team offer only the highest levels of customer service. That makes it much easier for valued customers to feel good about referring others in their network.

Determine the best time to ask for a referral.

Sometimes it’s OK to suggest to new customers that, should they be pleased with your product, delivery, and service, you’ll ask for a referral later. As the digital marketing firm LOCALiQ notes, this is “a low-pressure ask in that it gives clients the choice to refer you based on the results you deliver.” It also “sets the expectation that, if those results are good, they should send like-minded people your way.”

Other appropriate times to ask for referrals include (a) upon delivery of a promised product or service; and (b) when a customer reports high satisfaction with your product or service.

Serve as a source of referrals.

You can’t reasonably ask customers to do something you’re unwilling to do yourself. Take the opportunity to provide referrals to vendors and others with whom you work. Or, if you have a potential new referral source in mind, “call them and explain that you have heard great things about their business and would like to learn more about it so that you can refer your clients to them.” This may lead to a “productive meeting where the source will learn about your business and be in a position to refer their contacts to you.

Offer incentives for referrals.

Asking someone for a referral becomes a lot easier if you offer incentives for their participation. According to The Muse, these incentives can include “Amazon gift cards, a discount on next month’s invoice, or a donation to the charity of their choice” for providing a referral. Alert your best customers to this incentive “and tell them the first 10 to respond with a referral” will receive the prize. That may very well get things moving.

Set up a formal customer referral program.

You can continue to informally seek out and promote customer referrals, but you may see better results by instituting a formal customer referral program. As we have noted before, these key steps will help valued customers make the referrals you want:

  • Offer rewards for referrals, ranging from exclusive discounts to news about product upgrades and advance sales notices.
  • Craft a targeted email campaign that explains what you’d like customers to do and what they get for following through on a referral.
  • Add an easy-to-use referral link these valued customers can in include in social media posts.
  • Bonus tip: Don’t ask for a referral when submitting an invoice to a client.

Finally, make a prewritten referral message “people can pass along, but consider offering users the option to personalize the messages they send out on their own.”

Customers are the source of revenue for businesses, but when they’re motivated by satisfaction with your company, they can—with their enthusiastic referral—open the door to many other customers you don’t currently have.

Want to learn more about boosting the kind of customer loyalty that leads to referrals? Check out “5 Ways to Surprise and Delight Your Customers in 2021.”





Read our 19 Reasons You Need a Business Owner Advisory Board


Written by The Alternative Board

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