It’s a sad but true fact that most of today’s companies do a poor job of customer service. If you make customer service and value a priority, you can create that warm and fuzzy feeling that keeps customers coming back and referring friends.
Some consumers like warm and fuzzy. Others respond to value and incentives. Offer both. Referrals equal high profit margin because of the lack of marketing dollars it costs to get attention. How much does it cost to attract new customers? Weigh that against the fact that happy and motivated customers will be repeat customers. Proactively work to increase your repeat customers and referrals and your customer satisfaction skyrockets while your marketing budget drops.
A smooth transaction the first time someone buys from you may create a nice referral for you, but it’s the second referral that really counts. If someone refers you twice, you’ve made a lasting impression. By being creative you can turn a referral into a continuous source of new customers.
Creating brand loyalty isn’t easy these days, especially with the Internet and self-serve checkouts. Technology has created savvy consumers who want instant gratification and who will forget you the minute the transaction is done.
People price-shop and many no longer exhibit brand loyalty because no one stands out as being deserving of their loyalty. But simple methods help spread word-of-mouth referrals, and there are more advanced ways as well.
Simple methods include:
• Saying thank you.
• Staying in touch.
• Offering value.
Advanced methods include:
• Offering referral bonuses.
• Launching an affiliate program.

It may not sound like much, but people appreciate being treated like a customer because personalized customer service is considered rare.
What about following up a week after you provide a product or service to someone? Follow up in a personal way. Solicit feedback through a survey, send a thank-you postcard or email, and/or take the opportunity to woo them back to shop again. Ask if you can touch base regularly to present special offers or share information and offer something of value to show your appreciation of their business.
If you receive negative feedback through the contact or via a survey, it’s an opportunity to improve your business model. It’s nice to listen to a compliment, but it’s vital to listen to, and act on, complaints.
Referrals and Affiliates
There are a lot of ways to get people to refer a friend:
• Offer a ballot in a giveaway for each referred friend.
• Offer a prize for the most referrals.
• Start an affiliate program and pay a commission for each sale that is facilitated by someone.
Technology allows all this to be automated and put on autopilot.
It’s proven that people respond to personalized customer service and that today’s consumer is value-driven. Deliver a great product, show the customer that you care, reward them for their referrals and chances are you’ll save on advertising and increase your sales.

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