In a recent video, I suggested spending more time on getting customers who ‘would’ recommend to actually do so. As I received some ‘how to?’ questions on the topic, I’m using this issue of Level Up to outline three practical steps you can take. I hope you find them useful.
PS. While the below may sound like a B2C topic, it is even more relevant in B2B.
For thousands of years, positive word of mouth, or social proof, has been one of the most powerful influences in any purchase decision.
You know this very well. It’s why you spent all that time and budget on a customer feedback or Net Promoter programme. And hey, you’re getting it right! 👍
You listen to your customers. You follow up on every complaint in fewer than 24 hours. You use the customer insights you collect to help your business get ever better at what it does.
All that hard work is paying off.
The number of unhappy customers decreases every month and ever more buyers are saying ‘YES… I would definitely, completely, totally 11 out of 10, recommend you to my friends and family members’.
Everyone is smiling, especially you, after presenting your latest dashboard to the leadership of the company.
But to me, this isn’t where the story ends.
After all, what is the point of getting customers to be happy if you don’t turn their customer smiles into cash? Or at least move them from ‘I would recommend’ to ‘I actually do so’.
Part of this is a process to close the loop on promoters.
To thank them for their support and make sure they don’t forget to buy everything they need. To make them feel valued so they actually become that little more loyal.
But another part is to get those who ‘would recommend’ to actually do so.
This doesn’t happen automatically. If I tick a box on a survey, this doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and call up everyone I know to talk about your product or brand.
So below are three actions you can take to give fate, and your promoters, a little nudge.
1. If you want me to recommend, make it interesting.
Let’s face it: even the most inspiring brands often make for boring conversation. Years ago, when working on the global advocacy strategy for a famous wine region, this became painfully obvious.
While their wines were fascinating and popular, it was hard to talk about them without sounding like a wine-snob. So while people bought and drank the product, they didn’t discuss it with their friends beyond a casual ‘mmhhh, tastes good’.
Only when we gave them stories to tell about the French revolution, Brad Pitt and the influence of red wine on their sex drive, conversations started flowing like the wine.
Implication: If you want your customer to recommend your brand, they first have to talk about it. So ask yourself how you can offer them stories that make their conversations more interesting.
2. If you want me to recommend, make it matter to me
If customers promote your brand or product to their friends, they will want something in return. This isn’t necessarily money. In fact, a commission often makes them feel cheap.
But they may want the satisfaction of helping their friends, of looking good and knowledgeable, of convincing others of the way they view the world. After all, everyone recommends for different reasons.
Implication: when spreading the recommendation stories you create, tailor them, and their call to action to the different recommender archetypes out there. So far I identified half a dozen, but there may be more in your business. This will motivate them to take action.
3. If you want me to recommend, make it easy for me.
Even if they like you, only a tiny proportion of your promoters will seek out stories about you. The rest of us, frankly, have got better things to do with our lives. If you want us to notice what you have to say, make it hit our radar when, where, and how we like it. Being promoters won't make us your advertising junkies.
As an illustration, a former ad-agency exec working on the Apple account once told me that the brand allocated a significant portion of its spend to 'giving promoters a story to tell, and the confidence to tell it'. This way significantly increasing the impact of their campaign.
Implication: don’t stop at creating and tailoring stories, but actively put them into the market. Amplify them. Turn them into TikTok videos, mini-experiences, case studies, DIY kits. Even advertisements. Recommendations are the most credible sales pitch you can buy. So they are worth the investment.
None of the above methods guarantees a wave of recommendations.
But I find they significantly improve the odds. So try them out. Especially if you have a small advertising budget. After all, beyond being effective, there’s also no lower cost advertising method than positive word-of-mouth.
Do you want to talk promoter activation over a virtual coffee? ☕️
Monetising your customer experience efforts may be one of the most profitable moves your business can make for 2023. Especially with the looming recession, it's more important than ever to keep and profit from the 'customers you have'.
So if you’re curious, let's brainstorm about the possibilities in your organisation. And even if there is no follow up action to be taken, we're sure to learn and have fun. 😉
Alain Thys is an experience architect who helps organisations drive profit and transformation through experience.