April 13, 2021

How to Create a Highly Effective Customer Referral Program

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Written by
Tal Z
In business, nothing is more valuable than credibility. Your reputation will either make you or break you.

“There is no advertisement as powerful as a positive reputation traveling fast.”

– Brian Koslow

Why reviews matter

In business, nothing is more valuable than credibility. Your reputation will either make you or break you. And with multiple studies and surveys showing that online reviews are often the first place both businesses and consumers go to before making a partnership or purchasing decision, what people say about your product or service has never been more important.

Here’s a sampling of statistics to back this up: 93% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, with 34% searching every day; 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses in 2020 - up from 81% in 2019; 73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month. This last point makes it all the more important to make testimonials and reviews a recurring priority.

Make it justified

Look at the quest for recommendations as an incentive to give customers every reason to honor your company with a glowing review or referral. Approach every transaction with genuine courtesy - why would anyone bother to take the time to write something positive on your behalf or recommend you to their network if they didn’t feel respected - and obliged? It goes without saying that your service needs to warrant the praise!

Make it simple

Give customers every opportunity to create and post a review or make a referral with the least amount of fuss. In this fast-paced world full of distractions it’s vital that the process is quick and easy. Be available on the social media sites they might find easiest to use. Provide links to reviewer platform/s - whether that’s Google Reviews, TrustPilot, TripAdvisor or whatever other industry-specific sites are most relevant to your business. You could even share a few one-line examples of the things they might like to say about you to save them from having to think too hard. Consider adding these features to your invoice and follow-up email, pointing out how important recommendations are to the continued success of the service they’ve so richly benefited from

Ask directly

Often, the direct approach yields the best results. When you know you’ve done a great job and that it’s appreciated, send a personalized message to your happy customer. Better still if you can make it even more personal with a phone call to ask if there was anything you could have done to improve your service - if you’ve done your job right, the answer will be ‘no, nothing’, giving you the perfect opportunity to request a testimonial or referral.

Provide incentives

There are any number of ways to incentivize reviews - offering a discount on a future order or a complimentary product, for example; or writing a positive testimonial about them first (customers who are in business themselves will value the recommendations of suppliers as much as those of clients).

Show gratitude

Always remember to express your gratitude for a great review or referral. This can be in the form of a simple ‘thank you!’ in the comments section, or better yet a DM, e-mail or follow-up call. Not only will this demonstrate your courtesy, it will also give you another opportunity to interact with your customer, keeping your brand in their thoughts. If they’ve gone to especially great lengths to publicly praise your company and they are a potential source of good business, you might even want to make a more tangible gesture in the form of a gift!  

“A good reputation is more valuable than money.” – Publilius Syrus

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