As a small business building a client base will not only prove to be the biggest challenge but also the most rewarding. Let’s face it, without a client base it is impossible for a business to grow, having recommendations and referrals makes you all the more appealing to customers.
In any business, reputation is key especially when you consider that most new business comes from customer referrals. However, in a time where everything has become so available on the Internet are recommendations still as effective? The short answer to this – YES, especially for a small business! In this post we explore the different types of referrals and their effectiveness for businesses.
We start with the oldest and most reliable of referrals: recommendations or word-of-mouth referrals. A previous study has shown that 92% of consumers state that they trust recommendations from friends and family over reviews they have read online. But how do you get a recommendation? Well this is where excellent and high quality customer service really comes into play, gaining a customers confidence and loyalty is essential in ensuring that customers not only come back for more but that they are spreading the word on the business and the treatment they have received. The traditional conversational approach of recommendations can now travel even faster and further than before thanks to the Internet.
With the Internet being what we use for a majority of the day, it is so easy to find out about a company in a matter of seconds. Looking back years ago, if a customer was displeased with a service it would not have gone far, most likely they would have told those closest to them about their bad experience and that would be it. Nowadays, news travels very fast with the help of online reviews. It is key that both negative AND positive reviews receive a response. You want to ensure that your customers’ views have been taken on board and that as a company you are committed and responsive.
Social media recommendations have become even more popular over the past few years, with Facebook’s ‘Looking for Recommendations’, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. In order to encourage social media referrals, the business needs to be active on social media. Posting regular updates to keep customers engaged and gain new customers will help the reputation of the business grow greatly.
To round things off, and having explored both, recommendations are still just as effective as online reviews. An online presence is essential for any business in this day and age but recommendations are still needed just as much, especially for smaller local businesses.