Remember when I talked about the importance of a referral program? And how a simple customer referral program can be way more effective for your business than spending thousands of dollars on a marketing campaign? While all of this is completely true, I also mentioned how none of this would be possible without satisfying your current customers.
Which leads us to Part 2 of growing your business through a customer referral program – Your Current Customers Come First, always.
As I’ve said before, you can only attract new customers if you cater to your current ones. Did you know that acquiring a new customer is six to seven times more expensive than retaining a current customer? It’s much more cost-effective to market your existing customers than to find new ones. Ahh, now this is when it gets interesting!
If you haven’t picked up the book Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service by Kevin Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles, I highly recommend if you’re looking to improve your business’s customer referral program. This is a quick read, and the principles you learn and read through will stay with you long after you finish reading it. This book is geared toward all companies, whether you’re a huge organization or a small business; it is for all levels, from interns to owners. Superior customer service, known as “raving fans” customer service, is a basic requirement for any company looking to succeed and grow with a customer referral program.
3 Secrets Towards Creating “Raving Fans”
Decide. Discover. Deliver.
The book provides 3 Secrets towards creating “Raving Fans” and today I’m going to take you through them. They have helped us and I am more than confident that they will help you. But…you should still read the whole book, no skimping out!
1. Decide What You Want
This is the first, and most important step. Without this step, you won’t get very far. You need to take the time, and decide what you want to provide to your customers and “create a vision of perfection centered on the customer.” Put yourself in your customers’ shoes, and figure out every detail of what would make you a ‘raving fan’ of your business. What do you envision an experience being like in order to make someone one of your ‘raving fans’?
Once you envision that, you’ll need to follow through, creating the customer’s perfect vision. As well as, identify where any problems might be occurring. You’ll then hit your M.O.T. (Moment of Truth). This is anytime and every time the customer comes in contact with some aspect of the organization and uses that opportunity to judge the quality of service the organization is providing.
2. Discover What the Customer Wants
You’ve now decided what YOU want to do. Now you need to discover what the customer wants. A company must understand its customers’ vision in the context of the company’s vision. To do this, you must ask yourself a few things:
Who are your customers? The customer is not only the end-user of your product or service but every single person or business in-between. Suppliers, distributors, clients – a customer is anyone who may come into contact with any aspect of your business. This sounds like a lot of people, and it is! This can make things tricky, so in order to find out the vision, you may need to read between the lines and take more time on this. Listen to what your customers are saying, and listen to what they are not saying.
The two visions must be compared to identify gaps or differences. This is why step one is so important, a company must understand and decide what it wants to deliver before beginning to understand what the customer is looking for. Remember, although you would like to satisfy everyone, you aren’t going to and in some cases, differences will be so extreme that the customer may be better served by another company. This is OK! Wouldn’t you rather have someone go somewhere else instead of receiving a bad review? It’s completely unrealistic for a company to be everything to every customer, but a company must strive to be everything to its customers. So, focus on those who you are able to serve and have been serving!
3. Deliver Plus One
While this is known as the most difficult, this is also known as the ‘magical’ secret., “Deliver the Vision Plus One Percent”. In order to create raving fans, a company must deliver to every customer, what was promised consistently: every time, every day. Promise and deliver is the motto. Consistency is critical. While this may seem like a short promise, it’s not. The level of consistency you’ll need requires systems, processes, training, and an ability to change course if it means better serving your customers. Once you have consistency, you can only go up from there and focus on improvement. The “Plus One Percent” of the guideline is a way to center a company on continuous improvement of its vision.
“Raving Fans” forces you to think about customer service and experiences as the most important tool in building and realizing a successful business strategy. The three D’s: Decide, Discover and Deliver are three principles that will now be stuck in your head forever. If you implement these into your business model, you’ll have “Raving Fans”.
So let’s take these strategies and start using them.
Customer Experience vs. Customer Service
First things first, you need to know the difference between customer experience and customer service because they are NOT the same.
Customer service is actions. When you go to Starbucks and order your coffee, the employee helping you pay is delivering customer service to you.
Customer experience is the design of the interactions that your customer experiences with your company from beginning to end. Again, before you try to improve your customer experience, everyone on your team must understand what it actually is.
These actionable strategies are going to help you with both of these things, so let’s get right into it.
Your Leadership Is Important
The number one strategy that your business should have to improve your customer experience is that your leadership team should be setting an example for the type of customer experience your employees should be implementing.
As said by Steve Jobs, “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves. Who thinks he’s succeeded with that strategy? We sure do!
So, if you’re a leader in your company I want to challenge you to do something. Once a month or once a quarter, get into your business act as a front line employee. Work in your retail store, one of your chains, take some calls in your call center, answer a few request emails from your customers, respond to customers on social media, get in the trenches, learn what’s happening on a daily basis, and use that data to build better systems and processes, to build your customer experience. YOU are the leader and I’ll tell you this, you CANNOT learn and see everything from the top, put yourself in your employee’s shoes. It’ll go a long way, I promise.
Develop Customer Experience Training Material
The second strategy is developing a premium customer experience training material. Whether you’re a small company or multi-billion dollar organization, every company has the opportunity to build better content.
So what is this content that you should be including in your training materials? You have to teach every single employee you have the difference between customer experience and customer service. They need to learn about different customer personality types, and what organic growth means.
Remember, every company’s training material is going to be different. These are just a few of the many modules that should be included in your customer experience training program. Regardless of their position, regardless of the tenure that they have with their company, everyone should go through this training so that you have an aligned organization.
So if you’re the leader of your organization ask yourself this – do you feel that you’re providing premium content? If you do, how can you continue to refine it to set your employees up for success? Have fun with these training tools! Make it inspiring and entertaining for your employees! Make them fall in love all over again with the company they chose to work for.
Micro Customer Experience
For the third strategy, you need to implement micro customer experiences. What is it?
A Micro Customer Experience is a small, memorable and affordable gesture that you do for your customer, that resonates with them for years. Crazy right?
This can be anything, but this also comes with engaging and talking with your customers. For example, something like a birthday. If you are a restaurant, people receive “free dessert” all the time. Why don’t you switch it up and do something else for them that will make them remember it for years? And come back to your restaurant every year for their birthday.
Or maybe you’re a small wedding planning business? How special would it be to your couples if you wrote them a “Happy One Year Anniversary” note and sent a little gift on their first anniversary? Do you think they’ll send any referrals your way? We think so.
To be able to have this happen within your business, you need a single point of accountability. You need a budget to be able to make this happen, but you have to give your employees the autonomy to actually bring it to the surface, and deliver these experiences to your customers.
This is exactly what micro customer experience is. It’s a small, memorable and affordable gesture that you do for your customers that they’re going to talk about with their friends, family members, and hopefully write a Facebook or Google review about.
Get to Know Who Your Customers Are
The fourth strategy is getting to know your customers by surveying them. No matter the size of your business, or what industry you’re in, you should want to know and gather all customer insights. You’ll be able to gather great customer service insights so that you can celebrate great customer service, but so you can also build operational improvement if you receive any negative feedback.
But again, put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Sometimes you just don’t want to take a survey, or you’re catching them at the wrong time. You need to figure out a way to overcome these barriers. You should have individuals on your team to commit to building operational improvement plans to ensure that strategies and processes are being built within the company to increase customer loyalty.
As Bill Gates has said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning,” and that remains true today.
Go out, survey your customers, take the feedback, and build operational improvement plans to secure customer loyalty. Get it done!
Know-How to Handle Your Complaints!
The fifth strategy is to build a legendary customer experience is to have a complaint resolution system. No business is perfect, and you will receive more than one customer complaint, quite often! Again, you cannot please everyone, which is OK!
By having a single point of accountability, or multiple people if you’re a big company, ensure that every single customer complaint, across email, social media, phone, and all channels, is resolved within one business day maximum will help you manage customer retention rates and secure that customer loyalty that you want to influence your profit.
I hope these customer referral program strategies have helped and have motivated you to get started on your customer experience and service strategies. I highly recommend reading more about this topic by reading a few of these books below and connecting with these brilliant minds. As always I’m here to help, so leave a comment below to let me know how you’re doing!
- Highly Recommended: Harnessing the Power of Word of Mouth and Social Media to Build Your Brand and Your Business
- Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach To Customer Service
- Generating Business Referrals Without Asking: A Simple Five Step Plan to a Referral Explosion
- The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself
- The Connector’s Way: A Story About Building Business One Relationship at a Time
People To Follow On Linkedin-
In case you missed Part 1 here is the link