How to Improve Your Customer Referral Program


Asking a customer for a referral can leave you feeling as if you’re asking someone on a first date (pre-Tinder days).

Nervous. Awkward. Unsure.

However, we all know customer referrals are the best kinds of leads:

  • 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word-of-mouth when making buying decisions (Nielsen).
  • 84% if B2B decision makers begin their buying process with a referral (Edelman).
  • People are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend (Nielsen).

Asking for customer referrals doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t) be awkward. With the right timing, incentives, and communication asking for customer referrals becomes much more natural.

7 Tips for Running a Successful Customer Referral Program

  1. Build authentic relationships.
    First and foremost, in order for a customer to give a referral they need to trust you. Building meaningful relationships with clients takes time, but once established they will be happy to send business your way.
  2. Ask at the right time.
    Studies have found that customers are most excited about a product right after they buy – making it the perfect time to ask for a referral. Many companies even incorporate asking for referrals into the onboarding process.
  3. Offer incentives.
    Offering incentives can not only encourage customers to give more referrals, but it can encourage them to give referrals more than once.
  4. Set up the introduction.
    Ideally, when you get a referral, there would be an introductory call or meeting where your customer introduces you to their contact. However, if this isn’t possible, make sure you let your customer know when/how you plan to reach out, and see if they can give their contact a heads up.
  5. Offer bonus incentives when you win new business.
    Let your customers know that they’ll not only get rewarded for giving a referral, but they’ll also get a bonus incentive if that referral becomes a customer. This will help increase the quality of customer referrals you receive.
  6. Stay organized.
    Make sure you have a plan for tracking and managing all customer referral activity. Activity you may want to track includes: who was referred, who referred them, when the referral was made, follow ups, conversions, rewards, etc.
  7. Make it fun!
    The best customer referral programs are fun. A lot of companies incorporate their customer referral program into the advocacy program – where customers can earn points for completing activities and redeem them for gift cards, tech products, and more.

Remember, 83% of satisfied customers are willing to recommend your product/service to their peers (Texas Tech). All you need to do is ask.

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