Leveraging customer word-of-mouth recommendations is the most effective marketing and sales strategy available to companies focused on accelerating growth. Of course, winning those customer recommendations can be a challenge.
It’s so effective because it utilizes personal relationships, and in-depth discussions to communicate the best parts of your company’s offering. But that poses the biggest hurdle, as well — overcoming the fact that customers will not recommend your company lightly. After all, it’s asking them to put their personal credibility on the line.
The key to unlocking the supreme value of WOM recommendations is in your ability to consistently meet and exceed your customers’ expectations, to make them satisfied and confident enough to convince them to risk their reputation. Achieving that result is actually not that complicated, but it does require dedication, attention to detail, and planning. Following the five steps below will help you develop your customer-centric attitude and set you on your way to seeing a dramatic increase in repeat business and WOM recommendations.
5 Steps to Boost Word-of-Mouth Recommendations
1) Start at the top and incentivize the right things
Business leaders can all talk a good game when it comes to customer service, but they must follow through and deliver on it personally.
Everything they do should reinforce the message that “we are here to serve our customers, to do the right thing, and to meet and exceed customers’ expectations of us every single time.”
Over time, this message will filter down throughout the company. But employees need to realize that they will be rewarded for doing everything in their power to deliver the best service and experience for their customers.
2) Recognize that customers are individuals
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ when dealing with customers. Their experiences and needs dictate that they are dealt with individually. Feed this into your communications, anticipating their needs and throwing in the occasional surprise, too (so long as it’s a pleasant one!).
First, though, make sure you have the basics right:
- Always return calls or emails quickly
- Follow through with what you say you’re going to do
- Be considerate & creative in your approach to solving their issues
To go one step further, collect actionable feedback from customers at suitable contact points, such as after completing a purchase. Check straight away if they’re satisfied, and if they’re not, take steps to resolve their issues.
Again, make a point of rewarding employees who go the extra mile for customers.
3) Align teams and departments to work together
WOM recommendations are won when customer service is everybody’s job. After all, everyone has some kind of impact on customer experiences, whether you’re in sales, development, or finance. Not to mention an entire team’s hard work can be undermined by one loose cannon who leaves a lasting, negative impression on a customer, who then spreads the word of their experience.
Remember, it’s a mindset — not the ‘role’ of one person.
4) Resolve customer problems as quickly & effectively as possible
Customers who experience some kind of difficulty with your service can actually become your biggest advocates, so long as you immediately take steps resolve it for them. In fact, they will actually be far more likely to make WOM recommendations than customers who never experience a problem.
It’s simply a case of:
- Taking action to resolve their issue quickly
- Ensuring your actions are effective
- Finding and fixing the source of the problem to avoid similar problems in the future
- Following up with the customer afterwards to communicate your actions and check their satisfaction with the result
5) Make “The Ask”
If you’ve followed the advice above and taken steps to satisfy your customers, you’re in the prime position to ask them for testimonials, collect reviews, and to promote customer feedback online.
Publishing transparent, authentic feedback on your website — including examples of you handling customer issues — will convince sales leads of your dedication to customer satisfaction. Find ways to promote all of these valuable marketing materials, whether through email, blogs, social — the important thing is to use it!
Increasing WOM recommendations is most effective when you continue to develop your customer relationships after you’ve completed your business with them. Building personal rapport and brand loyalty over time is achievable, but requires consistency and dedication. By following the advice described above, you’ll be well on your way to dramatically improving WOM recommendations, increasing sales, customer retention and revenue as a result.
What to Do Next
If you enjoyed this article, take a moment or two to share your thoughts on how to increase WOM recommendations in the comments section, or ask any questions you like!
Once you’ve done that, we want you to do one more thing: search around for software solutions to help you make the most of customer feedback, including the solution we’ve built to not only increase WOM recommendations, but take steps to improve customer satisfaction, and reap the business rewards that follow.
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