Successful referral programs from every corner of the market seem to share a few common characteristics. These elements that are common among smoothly functioning programs are not shock material. They are the same good business sense practices that our grandparents utilized, long before there was such a thing as the Internet. Long before digital communications, were business that went out of their way to show their customers how important they really are.
The Customer is Always Right
This hasn’t and isn’t likely to change when it comes to business relationships and what ingratiating customer service techniques can do for a business’s brand name. When it comes to successful referral programs, also try to give the customer the benefit of the doubt. You already know the worth of the awards you provide in your programs, so it will be critical that you weigh those cost against the cost of losing a customer over a petty disagreement about referral program awards. When in doubt, it is always vital to err in the customer’s favor.
Pre-Planning and Strategizing
It is critical to brainstorm your ideas ahead of time with your staff, friends or anyone who may have valid input to offer. The more creative the program, the more successful it will be. Ask your artistic friends for their ideas. If you have great organizational skills, good. However, if you do not, ask someone for assistance in that area also before you launch your program.
Reward = Effort
All successful referral programs definitely have this one key element in common. Having a reward system isn’t good enough unless that reward is equal to or greater than the effort it takes your customers, sales team or employees to carry out. A system where an individual must refer ten purchasing customers for a minor award is likely to fail and fast. It is better to provide a scalable system of rewards if you want your business referral program to succeed.
Keep it Simple
While some of your program details may become quite detailed, it is always best to keep your guidelines and rules as simple as possible. Limit them to a very small number where possible and make sure they are easy for your referrers to stick by and still be successful in drawing in referrals. Again, if the reward isn’t worth the effort, all efforts will eventually be lost. When at all possible, dedicate an entire webpage to your referral system. Include contact forms and interactive methods of participation in the program where you can. If people can refer you 24 hours per day, you are likely to receive a more diverse and large crowd of referrals.
As with any business practices, make sure your entire staff is familiar with the process of management, as well as the process of referral new customers your way. Whenever possible, also allow them to be one of the sources of creative input as the most successful referral programs are created and carried out by full team efforts.
Christian Fea is CEO of Synertegic, Inc. A Joint Venture and Referral Marketing firm. He exemplifies how to profit from Joint Venture and Referral relationships by creating profit centers with minimal risk and maximum profitability.
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