Content Marketing is all the rage, and for good reason. Google is continuously tweaking their algorithms to reward content that is useful for people, rather than over-optimized thin content.
Marketers are catching on, and as a result there are a ton of articles talking about the value of content marketing for attracting new customers.
But you don't hear as much talk about great customer service as a way of getting new customers.
Where do new customers come from?
Ask any business owner what their best source of new customers is, and they will tell you it is word-of-mouth referrals from their existing customers.
Yet - amazingly - 80% of businesses have no process in place for asking their customers for referrals!
Customer service as an inbound marketing technique
Providing top-notch customer service is the best way to get your customers to refer you to their friends or colleagues.
But you have to take it one step further. In addition to providing a fantastic customer experience, you need to ask your customers to refer you!
How to ask for referrals
According to John Jantsch, author of The Referral Engine (an excellent book, btw) one of the best times to ask your customer for a referral is after a support request where you resolved their question or issue. This was counter-intuitive for me at first.
In the book, he suggests you think about all of the customer touch-points in your business. Write down every time you interact with your customer, and look for opportunities to ask for referrals.
Here's an example of how we mapped out all of our customer touch-points for one of our products.
We looked at each of these touch-points to determine which would be the best ones to ask for referrals, and then added those requests in a subtle way. We didn't ask at every touch-point - we just chose a few of the key ones that made the most sense.
The results were amazing - we started getting referrals almost right away!.
Summary - Customer service as your best marketing strategy
By investing in your customer service, engaging with your customers to make sure they are happy, and asking for referrals, you can build an amazing marketing engine for your business. Here is a summary of the key steps to make this a reality:
- Provide a top-notch customer experience (invest here, instead of marketing)
- Engage with your customers to get their feedback, and keep them happy (getting a new customer is 6x more expensive than keeping an existing one)
- Ask your happy customers to refer you, and make it easy for them! (get new customers from your existing, happy ones!)
What are you doing to turn happy customers into evangelists for your company? I'd love to hear from you!
Don is President of Expand2Web, where he writes about WordPress for business and local search marketing. He also created GetFiveStars - a tool for business owners to encourage feedback and positive reviews from their customers.