Build Referrals: Beyond Good Service

Many entrepreneurs rely almost exclusively on good customer service to cultivate referrals. Don't miss your other opportunities.

Outstanding service is vital to the health of your business, but it's not always the most reliable way to build referrals. Customers have come to expect (and demand) good customer service. They are more likely to talk about your business when they're unhappy than when they're happy. Keep providing outstanding service, but develop other strategies for building referrals.

“You’ll never know unless you ask”
When communicating with your prospects and clients, ask them if they know anyone else whom your products or services could help. This could be a win-win-win opportunity if their client is struggling with a problem you can resolve.

Build Deeper Relationships
If you measure your networking efforts by the number of meetings attended or business cards collected, it’s time to re-think your methods. Networking is not just about making contacts; it’s about building relationships that benefit both parties. Be selective about the networking groups you join and the meetings you attend. Take the time to get to know your contacts—what do they need? How can you serve them? Unfortunately, it's all too common for business people to focus on breadth, not depth, in their networking.

Teach Friends and Family
Who is a better potential source of referrals than the people who know and love you best? Make sure your friends and family members understand what your business does for customers and train them to identify opportunities to refer business your way. When they hear people say words like "I want," "I need," "I can't," "I wish," or "I don't know who," your friends and family should know how to steer them to you.

“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” – Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com

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