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 we will focus on that.
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? In my experience, I’ve found six ways that work:
1. Talk to customers on the phone or in person.
When a new service customer contacts our company, GenSpringPower, Inc, we do our 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 contact us, customers have the option to fill out a form on our website, or contact us directly via phone.. We also 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.
2. Communicate with the customer on scheduling.
For existing service customers, we call and schedule all routine service work in advance so the customer knows what we are doing and when to expect us. This is important; the customer can communicate with us and let us know of any concerns and if there are any scheduling conflicts. It puts us on the same page , and it eliminates the biggest frustration most customers face with service calls.
3. Create personal relationships between the customer and serviceperson.
Going off the last point, at our company, the person scheduling the service is also the person doing the work. Because we are a family company, there is no turnover in personnel; 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, we establish long-term personal relationships with our customers and get to know them and their families. If they know you, they’re much more likely to recommend you.
4. Maintain a high standard of work.
This may seem obvious, but it goes a long way. Our home standby generator installation and service work reflects the same high standard as if it were being performed in our own homes. We are neat, clean up after every job, and leave the site in as good a shape, if not better than, it was when we arrived. We schedule appointments for home standby generator installations or services in advance and strive to arrive on time and complete all work in a professional manner, as promised.
5. Promptly address any and all customer concerns.
When a customer has any concern about our service, we address it immediately. We strive to have a positive experience with every customer; we 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, we 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 we are establishing a long-term relationship with the customer, it’s extremely important that he or she remains completely satisfied. We value customers’ needs not only from the business perspective, but also because they are a personal priority of ours.
6. Make the customer remember you.
There’s a big difference between a good job and an outstanding job. We want our customers to be pleased with our responsiveness, the quality of our work, and the value we provide. If we go above and beyond what was expected in all areas, they’ll notice. We understand that all customers are looking for the best experience they can find in a service. Our goal is to deliver that quality experience so that the customer remembers GenSpring Power, Inc 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 a 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.
Clayton Preble is the founder and president of GenSpring Power, Inc., a company formed in 2002 that specializes in home standby generator systems for residential customers. Prior to forming GenSpring Power, he spent more than 30 years in the natural gas industry. He is a Master Service Technician, the highest service level expertise certified by Briggs & Stratton.