No matter whether you run your own business or a large enterprise, there is one thing you should pursue after every transaction you make with a customer: getting a referral.
84% of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about products and services – making these recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness. (Nielsen)
Basically, the easiest way to sell your product to new customers is to get recommendations from your current ones. This doesn’t only apply to sales but also to many other areas like looking for a job, or buying something. But that’s not an easy task, most sales people never ask for a referral.
Recently, I spent a holiday week in Majorca, a beautiful Spanish island in the Mediterranean. Yes, it is still Spanish although some Germans consider it as the 17th “Bundesland” because of the significant population living there and visiting the island every year. 🙂
We rented a very nice house, just 2 km away from the beach and the nice village of Portocristo, where the famous tennis player Rafael Nadal lives (when he isn’t beating everyone on the court). The house was beautiful, spacious and well maintained, had a pool and even a playground for the kids. We really liked it.
What made the difference?
As I mentioned, the house was very good and in anyway, we would’ve spent a nice holiday there. But there was something that really made the difference: the owners.
As an example, last year we went to another Balearic island, Menorca. We also rented a house through Airbnb but when we got there, it wasn’t the owner who welcomed us but a guy from an agency. The owners, a British couple living in the UK, just let this small agency to manage their rentals. This is ok of course, but you clearly feel the difference. I was satisfied with that experience as well but would I go back to the same house? Maybe not. I guess I could find a similar or a better one next time. Did I recommend that house to anyone? Not really. If someone asks me I would say the house was good but I would say “look around, you probably can find something even better”.
They cared about us
Coming back to our lovely house in Majorca, yes, the owners were what it made this experience great. Why? They did these six things very well:
- Welcome: we arrived quite late in the night, not in their check in hours they describe on the website. They didn’t mention anything about it. The communication was great and Toni, was waiting there to welcome us and show us around. He was very friendly and explained everything very well.
- Day after, light check: the day after we arrived, I received a nice message from Magdalena, Toni’s wife and the one I was communicating with through WhatsApp, just wishing us a nice holiday and asking us to contact her if we needed anything. She also said they would come to clean the pool in a few days and to see if we needed anything.
- Few days check: a few days later they asked us if it was ok if they would come to clean the pool and we answered with a yes. They came that evening together, Toni and Magdalena. It was very good to meet them both and we had a nice chat. Magdalena asked again if we needed anything else and if everything was alright. We said everything was very good and that we were enjoying our stay there.
- Asking for feedback: Magdalena could’ve left it like that. All is good, great, bye bye. But no. She didn’t stop there. She asked for feedback about the house, anything we thought they could improve. It was a nice chat and I was really satisfied with the house, I didn’t want to say anything negative to be honest, but there was just this little thing I didn’t really like: their citrus juicer. They had the classic and beautiful aluminium one. It looks great but it takes 10 minutes to get a glass of orange juice and we were four people. So, it isn’t that efficient and basically, it is one of those things that makes you feel like not using it just because the time and effort you need to put in. So I told her that for the next guests, it would be good for them to have an electric one.
- Last check: before leaving, they said that if it was ok for us, they would come back a couple of days before our check out to say good bye. We liked it. They have two kids as well, so I said they could bring them along and they could play with ours while we have a drink. They agreed.
- Action based on feedback: two days before leaving, they came to the house bringing their two girls and a bottle of wine with them. That was great, but what it really surprised me was when she just got something out of a plastic bag and showed me… a new citrus juicer! She even brought oranges from their own orange trees. Really? I didn’t mean it that way. I thought, “this would be a little thing that would make your guest a bit more comfortable as people usually like to drink orange juice for breakfast during holidays”. This was totally unexpected and really made, even more, the difference.
What does this mean for them and for me?
Well, we had an extraordinary orange juice in the next two mornings. But as a customer, you feel when someone really cares about their business and the experiences their customers are getting. They not only put effort and hard work, but they also do it with passion and go the extra mile to make sure their customers have a memorable experience.
This works for every type of business, even if you sell budget services, do something the other won’t do, and you will have a successful business for many years. There are hundreds of nice villas in Mallorca. Within the same price range, we could’ve chosen between 4 or 5 when we were looking where to stay. We chose this one and I am glad we did. Now what? I don’t think they need my help to get more customers but this is what I have done so far:
- Wrote a nice review on Airbnb. People trust reviews.
88% of people trust online reviews written by other consumers as much as they trust recommendations from personal contacts. (BrightLocal)
- Already referred this place to 4 people, and will do to many more anytime we talk about holidays.
- I’ve got business cards with me. So my friends can contact them directly and not through an agency.
- I am writing this article. Not putting their details here but if you would like to spend a nice holiday in Majorca, you can contact me.
The impact of a referral
I am not probably the only one that had a great experience at that place. I am sure everyone is highly satisfied with the stay there, and some of them might recommend it to others. But just from my side, this is how it will work:
- Some people will book this house influenced by my review on Airbnb.
- Some of those will write a positive review as well.
- Some of the people I recommend this place to, will actually go there.
- They will probably book direct and maybe have a better price than doing it online.
- Magdalena and Toni won’t need to pay the whole commission to the agencies.
- They know they are coming through a referral so they will put even more effort in making their stay comfortable.
- Some of those people staying there will tell their friends, family and colleagues.
- And so on…
In the long term, Magdalena and Toni will depend less and less on agencies and will pay less and less commissions. Their business will become more and more personal and their satisfaction about it will increase significantly.
This won’t happen over night but it will happen. If they keep putting their passion into their business, they will continue to be successful while enjoying a nice ride.
If you are looking to grow your business, start by focusing in one little thing: getting a referral.
Thanks for reading. Any comments, likes, shares and feedback are highly appreciated.