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Strategy

Turning Your Clients into Brand Evangelists

There’s so much more to creating evangelism among your satisfied customers than simply providing them with top-notch service

Matt Duczeminski
June 29 2017

Quick question:

How much do you spend a year working to acquire new customers?

(You don’t really have to check. We both know it’s a large number!)

Wouldn’t it be great if you could wrangle in new clients at a fraction of the cost? Or – better yet – if brand new customers showed up at your doorstep without you having to spend a penny? It might sound like a pipedream. But you can make it happen. All you have to do is treat your current customers well enough that they take it upon themselves to refer your brand to their friends, family members, and colleagues.

Of course, there’s a bit more to creating evangelism among your satisfied customers than simply providing them with top-notch service. We’ll get into that in a bit.

But first, let’s take a look at why and how, exactly, generating this evangelism can positively affect your company.

Benefits of Customer Recommendations, Referrals, and Evangelism

There certainly is no shortage of data regarding the benefits of earning referrals from your current customers. But let’s take a moment to highlight some of the most valuable statistics from the list.

First, regarding the effectiveness of referrals:

  • 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know
  • People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend
  • 49% of U.S. consumers say friends and family are their top sources of brand awareness.

Furthermore:

Simply put:

Customer referrals and brand evangelism can do wonders for your company’s profit margin.

However, there’s one last stat that needs mentioning:

While 83% of customers say they’re willing to refer a certain brand to their network, only 29% of these individuals actually do it.

So, it’s up to you to nudge these satisfied customers in the direction of becoming evangelists of your brand.

The following article will provide four ways you can make it happen – and increase your overall retention rates in the process.

4 Steps To Take To Turn Your Satisfied Customers Into Brand Evangelists

Generating brand evangelism requires you take four major actions:

  • Make your services worth referring
  • Ask for referrals
  • Make it easy for customers to give referrals
  • Incentivize referrals

Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Make Your Services Worth Referring

First and foremost, if you want to have any hope of earning referrals and recommendations from your customers, you need to do whatever it takes to make them happy.

But it’s not enough to simply meet the needs of your customers. To leave a big enough impression on your clients that they can’t help but sing your praises, you need to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Consider the following hypothetical companies, both of which focus on helping customers get in better physical shape:

  • Company A provides a daily newsletter through email that describes different exercise regimens, diet programs, and lifestyle improvement tips
  • Company B provides a similar newsletter, along with weekly coupons for various health foods and supplements, a monthly roundup of curated articles related to healthy living, and a stat-tracking program allowing clients to visualize their progress over time.

Of the two companies, there’s little doubt that “Company B” will gain many more recommendations and referrals than its competitor.

However, this is assuming that the extra services “Company B” provides are actually valuable to its customers. In other words, simply throwing more at your clients won’t be enough to turn them into evangelists.

In order to actually provide added value, you need to:

  • Find out exactly what your customers need from you
  • Work diligently to provide these things to them – even if it goes beyond the scope of your basic services
  • Reach out to them once you’ve delivered your services to see if there’s anything else you can do to help
  • Stay in touch with them over time to ensure they’ve reached their goals (and then some)

We’ve spoken about this before:

Treating your customers as individual people  is not only a surefire way to get them to stick around, but it’ll also go a long way toward getting them to recommend your services to others.

One other thing you’ll need to do to increase the likelihood of retaining your customers and generating evangelism is to provide such exceptional service consistently. And it makes sense: if you only provide top-notch service when it’s convenient for your company, you’re not actually individualizing your services.

Assuming your customers are 110% satisfied and are willing to refer your services to others, you’re ready for the next step.

Ask For Referrals

As we discussed earlier, even customers who are over the moon about your product or service aren’t very likely to take it upon themselves to recommend your brand to their friends or family.

It’s up to you, then, to plant the seed that makes them think “Hey, I really love this product. I should let everyone else know how great it is!”

Of course, asking for a recommendation can be very touch-and-go. If gone about the wrong way, you might run the risk of alienating an otherwise happy customer – the exact opposite of what you’re trying to do.

Successfully asking for referrals comes down to two things:

  • Timing
  • Personalization

As far as timing goes, there are actually more than a few moments during which asking for a recommendation will result in a positive outcome:

Your First Interaction With a Customer

This might sound like jumping the gun a bit, but by making it clear to new customers that you’d like them to refer others to your business, you’re telling them straight out:

“I’m confident I can help you, and I’d appreciate it if you spread the word once I’ve followed through.”

(Of course, as mentioned above, you’ll need to actually live up to your word to earn those recommendations!)

Point of Sale

When customers are at the point of sale, they’ve basically decided that receiving your services is worth the investment and/or risk they’re about to take by shelling out their hard-earned cash.

(Source)

If they believe your services are worth the investment they’re making, why wouldn’t they recommend that their friends make the same investment, as well?

The Height Of Customer Satisfaction

Earlier on, we mentioned the importance of keeping in touch with your customers. Not only does this prove to them that you truly care about their success, but it also will allow you to pinpoint the moment in which you arguably have the best chance of earning a recommendation from them.

If you reach out to your customers and discover they’re incredibly happy with the results your product or service has brought them, you definitely want to ask for a referral right away. It’s not that you’re trying to take advantage of them – it’s that you want others to experience the same ecstatic feeling they’re currently having.

After Receiving Positive Feedback

Going along with the last point, if your customer reaches out to you to express their happiness, there’s no doubt they’d be willing to refer your services to a friend.

Think about it: they’re probably thinking “I wish there was more I could do more to show my appreciation!” And, well…there is. You just have to remind them.

In addition to asking for a referral at the right moment, you also want to personalize your request, as well.

First of all, you need to reach them where they’re most likely to be receptive of your message – and where they’re most likely to share it. For example, if a customer signs up for your email list, you’d be better off asking them to send an invite to five friends through email than you would asking them to share a link to their page on Facebook.

Secondly, when reaching out to request a referral, you should reach back into your history with that customer and remind them of a specific interaction they had with your company. Not only will this jog their memory with regard to the value you provided them in the past, but it will also show them that you value them just as well.

Your request for a referral should be specific and individualized, as well. Instead of relying on the old “tell five friends about us” routine, ask them to take a moment and think of people in their lives who would truly benefit from your services. In doing so, you maximize the chances that the people being referred will actually be a good fit for your company – not just five random people who may or may not be in need of the services you provide.

Make It Easy For Customers To Give (and Receive) Referrals

This goes along with some of what we talked about in the last section.

To put it bluntly: Your customers are not your employees. If recommending your product or service feels like work to them, they’re most likely not going to do it.

That being said, there are a couple ways you can make it easy for your most satisfied customers to effectively recommend your company to their network.

Think about the platforms a specific customer is likely to use to make recommendations.

(Source)

While it would make total sense to ask a 20- or 30-something digital native to retweet an offer, asking the same of a baby boomer might not be so effective. On the other hand, if a millennial receives a canned recommendation from a friend through email, they might think it’s a spoofed message and be hesitant to open it.

But beyond making the actual act of making a recommendation easy, you also want to make it easy for your customers to share the vital information about your brand that will get others interested.

To do so, create documentation that clearly explains:

  • Your company’s message or mission statement
  • The features and benefits of your service (highlighting benefits)
  • Customer success stories

To reiterate: your customers are not your salespeople. Even if they truly do love your company, they might have a difficult time putting into words exactly what they love about it (or exactly what your company even does in the first place).

By providing them with resources to back up their claims, all they need to do is pass along the information whenever they make a referral.

Incentivize Referrals

Repeat after me:

Rewarding your customers for making recommendations is not cheating.

You’re surely aware that many companies implement some sort of referral program into their marketing initiatives. ReferralCandy does a

You might notice that some of these suggestions go hand-in-hand with the advice we mentioned earlier (such as providing a clear offer, and making your intentions clear).

Another thing to note is that, by allowing even your newest customers to take part in your referral program, you increase the chances that they will become evangelists relatively quickly.

(Source)

Of course, when compared to gaining recommendations without having to lift a finger, providing incentives to referrers is inherently more costly. If the cost of implementing a referral program is a major concern, there’s still one other way you can incentivize evangelism:

Provide intrinsic rewards, instead.
You might give referrers access to advanced levels of service:

(Source)

Or you might give satisfied customers a platform with which to share their success.

Maybe your mentoring program helped them increase their monthly recurring revenue; or perhaps they lost 25 pounds after implementing your exercise tips.

Whatever the case may be, help them celebrate and share their big wins with others in their network. Not only will this allow your satisfied customers to take ownership of (and take pride in) their gains, but it will also allow them to do the good deed of helping their friends and family members who may be facing similar challenges.

And, of course, it could quite possibly lead to a huge increase in your customer base in the process.

Conclusion

Like we said before:

Acquiring new customers is expensive.

Not only is it expensive, but the effort and energy you put into acquiring these new customers is effort and energy taken away from actually providing top-notch service to your current customers.

Instead of continuously seeking out the next acquisition, focus on providing the best possible service to those who have already given you their money. In turn, you can use your newly-satisfied customers as leverage when aiming to increase your customer base.

Not only that, but once you’ve gotten your happy customers to the point of becoming evangelists of your brand, you can be almost 100% certain that you’ve gained a loyal customer for life.

 

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Matt Duczeminski

Matt is a professional writer specializing in helping entrepreneurs improve relationships with their customers. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Sarah, and he'd probably get a lot more work done if his cat would stop bothering him.

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