Word-of-mouth marketing has long been viewed as the most effective form of business promotion. According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association, 90 percent of small businesses rely on referrals for growing their customer base.
However, as many business owners know, getting customers to spread the good word about your company takes more than just a rain dance. It takes hard work to deliver an experience that exceeds your customers’ expectations.
Here are three unexpected ways you can earn word-of-mouth referrals simply by providing memorable customer service.
When consumers call technical support, the chance of reaching a real person (rather than an automated voice) in a reasonable amount of time is slim, and effective communication can be difficult.
According to the most recent Customer Experience Index (CEI) survey, 86 percent of consumers reported that they would pay more for products and services in return for a better customer experience. Use this to your advantage by investing in high-quality employees who are passionate about helping your customers.
Empower your employees to do whatever it takes to ensure your customers are happy, whether it’s spending a little extra time on the phone chatting with a talkative customer or sending handwritten follow up notes. A personal touch can have a tremendous impact on your business.
Think about a time when a business went above and beyond to do something generous for you without expecting anything in return. How did that change the way you viewed your relationship with that particular person or company?
Most likely, the small cost or inconvenience resulted in a positive experience for you and a mini-grassroots marketing campaign for them. According to a survey conducted by American Express, U.S. consumers tell an average of 15 people about their good experiences with companies. And, considering Forrester Research recently reported that 70 percent of consumers trust their friends’ recommendations of companies, those positive experiences can bring in new customers and boost your bottom line.
It doesn’t cost a fortune to make a good impression. In fact, a “frugal wow” – such as sending a bouquet of flowers to a loyal customer who has lost a loved one or providing an unexpected discount for a new customer – can easily pay for itself 10 times over in customer referrals.
While you may take every precaution to ensure your customer service is top notch, it might not be enough to have your customers shouting from the rooftops. In 2012, more than half of consumers reported that they sometimes or rarely told other people about their experiences with companies, even when they were good. But that doesn’t not mean they aren’t willing to share. Sometimes, just asking a customer to recommend your company is all it takes.
In addition, offering an incentive for customers to spread the word about your company isn’t a bad way to give your word-of-mouth marketing a push. Consider rewarding customers who have become evangelists for your brand with discounts, gift cards or cash for each new referral who signs a contract.
In an industry where there is no shortage of competition from both small and large security companies, it’s important to get an edge any place you can – especially with consumers. Empower your employees to provide unique, generous and bold service. It will be a refreshing surprise for your customers and an unexpected boost to your growing business.
This article originally appeared in Security Nation, 2013, Vol. 3.