Any good company knows the importance of referrals; free, positive, and honest publicity can never be underestimated. Referrals can originate from several sources: existing customers, trade allies, associates, and friends. Of those, the strongest source is existing customers, so you will focus on them.
A referral comes from a different vantage point than most approaches. The referring party, having been satisfied with your past performance, is providing a strong endorsement of not only your company and employees, but also the service you provide. As a result, the potential customer feels a more personal connection with the solution you are offering. Most importantly, you have credibility from the start, increasing the likelihood of completing the sale.
But how does one earn referrals?
When a new service customer contacts your company, do your best to understand exactly what the problem is, advise him on the next steps, go over potential costs, and schedule an appointment. In order to provide a proper method of contact, customers have the option to fill out a form on your website, or contact you directly via phone. Offer to meet with customers on site to discuss any aspects of the job to ensure they are comfortable with the process – the contact feels more personal, and they understand what to expect and a level of trust is established.
For existing service customers, call and schedule all routine service work in advance so the customer knows what is going on and when to expect you or your representative. This is important; the customer should understand that they are free to communicate with you and let you know of any concerns and if there are any scheduling conflicts. It puts us all on the same page, and it eliminates the biggest frustration most customers face with service calls.
Going off the last point, if at all possible, the person scheduling the service should be the person doing the work. Strive to keep your turnover in personnel to a minimum so the customer works with the same person each time, and that person has a record and history of past service or repairs he performed. This way, you establish long-term personal relationships with your customers and get to know them and their families. If they know you, they’re much more likely to recommend you.
This may seem obvious, but it goes a long way. Your service work should reflect the same high standard as if it were being performed in your own home or business. Be neat, clean up after every job, and leave the site in as good a shape, if not better than, it was when you arrived. Schedule appointments for services in advance and strive to arrive on time and complete all work in a professional manner, as promised.
When a customer has any concern about your service, address it immediately. Strive to have a positive experience with every customer; understand that a complaint that is not quickly addressed tends to make its way to other potential customers, and can result in a bad reputation. As such, go to any lengths necessary to rectify any issues. That could involve meeting with the customer to review what was done, making an adjustment to the invoice, or awarding a credit toward future maintenance. Because you are establishing a long-term relationship with the customer, it’s extremely important that he or she remains completely satisfied. Value customers’ needs not only from the business perspective, but also because they are a personal priority.
There’s a big difference between a good job and an outstanding job. As a result, make every effort for your customers to be pleased with your responsiveness, the quality of your work, and the value you provide. Go above and beyond what was expected in all areas, they’ll notice. You need to understand that all customers are looking for the best experience they can find in a service. Your goal is to deliver that quality experience so that the customer remembers you for not only the next time they need service, but also whenever their friends ask for recommendations.
In business, it’s easy to think that sales are the bottom line. While each sale is obviously important, a positive, personal relationship with the customer will lead to recommendations, continued business, and a prosperous company. Provide high-quality service so leads come to you – and you won’t have to look for them.