Asking for referrals from a past client can feel awkward, but it is one of the most effective ways to build your client base. But what makes a customer want to give a referral? And if they want to give you a referral, how do you go about asking (politely) for it? Let us begin:
A customer gives a referral because they trust you
A past customer is not going to give you a referral unless you: 1. Went above and beyond their expectations and 2. They feel they can trust you. A past customer does not want to find themselves in a situation where they recommend you and their friend isn’t happy with your service. They want to be absolutely sure that if they recommend you, you will not disappoint those that they recommend. The first part of gaining a customer’s trust is expectation management. This begins with screening your incoming prospects. Some prospects are going to have impossibly high expectations, these people you will want to avoid. Some prospects will be more realistic and know what they want, you should focus on them. Once you have determined that your prospect is qualified (financially and their project is well within the scope of your expertise and resources) begin to scope out the project and let them know what they can expect from you. Do not overpromise and underdeliver. Rather, you want to under promise and overdeliver. Maintain an ongoing dialogue with your customer, understand not just what they want, but why they want it. To build this trust with your client you need to be able to continue having a positive and enjoyable relationship throughout the life of the project. If there is bad news, tell them as soon as possible. If there is an unforeseen expense, let them know about it and why it was unforeseen. Be as transparent with them as possible and they will notice it.
You must ask for a referral
Even your most satisfied customer is likely not to refer you unless you ask. Why is that? Because, like you, your past customer has a lot going on in their life and is busy with many other things. Referring your service to their friends will likely not be at the top of their minds unless you mention it. House At Work helps you with this. By sending a email request for a referral for your company you can easily ask and receive referrals from your past clients. Another way to get an even better response: call your past client before sending them the request.
Ask for permission
You have to do more then simply ask for referrals. It has to be something that you have worked for in the mind of your client. You also have to plant the seed in their mind that you will be asking for a referral once you are done with their project. A good way to approach this would be right before you begin the project you say to the client: “Once I am done with your project, and I have shown you the quality of my work, I would like to ask you to contact some of your friends and family who would be interested in my services. Is that okay with you?”. If they agree, the client is giving you explicit permission to ask them for a referral once you have completed the job, all you have to do is follow through!
Be specific when you ask for referrals
When you ask a past client for referrals, do not say something like “is there anyone else do you think I could help?”. Rather, ask the past client “do you know of anyone else on your block who needs <roofing, siding, whatever it is you do>?”. If they provide you with a referral offline, they are very likely to provide you with one when you send a request through House At Work.
When to ask for it?
The best time to ask for referrals from a client is immediately after the job when you can tell they are very happy with what you have done. Do not wait too long, as was mentioned earlier, your customers have busy lives with all manner of things going on and may not remember to mention you to their friends if you don’t prompt them. Ask for a referral from them while the thought of it is still relevant, and then send them the request through House At Work.
Who should ask?
The person who should ask your past customer for a referral should ideally be the person they interacted with the most through the process of the project. Every company is structured differently so the answer is going to be different for each company. If it was one of your sales associates who interacted the most with that particular past customer, then it should be the sales associate who asks for the referral.