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Get Customers To Sell For You

How do you delight your customers?  Learn effective ways to boost your business and increase your interactions with customers.    Find out what your customers really want...

Written Jun 02, 2008, read 1587 times since then.


I am a home inspector who often relies on secondary sources for my referrals, such as realtors, mortgage brokers, attorneys and other business people.  While this has been productive, I have ignored my customer base as as a prime referral base.  There are always folks who will refer me, but I recently learned that only 15 percent will refer you if you do nothing, 5 percent will never refer you no matter what, and 80 percent will refer you if you simply ask them. With this in mind I have set in place systems that will keep me in better touch with my customer base, and ask for more referrals. I take this one step further by surveying my customers to find out why they would refer me and also how I can improve my services.

 How do you get more customers to refer to you?  The idea is to get customers to praise and refer you based on your service or product satisfaction.  According to some research, a company’s promoters are responsible for 80 percent or more of new customer referrals, making this group a key to revenue growth.  Most of us in small business are referral based and rely upon our customers for new or renewed business.  Gleaning feedback from customers can be an effective way to improve your satisfaction number and get more business.  Here are some tips on how to collect and use feedback from customers to boost business.

Ask your customers to rate you on a scale of 0 to 10 based on a question, “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” Then sort the responses into three groups: promoters (9’s and 10’s), passives (7’s and 8’s), and detractors (0’s through 6’s).  Adding up the percentage of promoters and subtracting the percentage of detractors from this will give you a simple rating score to measure customer satisfaction. Use this number as a guide to improve service or product. 

Follow up with another question, “ May I follow up with you at a later date?” This allows you to get constructive criticism from willing customers.

Contact those who agree to talk and ask one final question, “Why did you give this rating?”

Some of the most useful feedback comes from detractors who will give you an earful on shortcomings of your business.  Cure what ails this crowd and drive up your satisfaction score.  Using feedback from passives (the 7’s and 8’s who take you or leave you), can also reveal some areas for improvement that may save these folks from being lost through attrition.  The promoters who will sing your praises may offer some of the best comments to use in describing your service or product. The idea though is not to focus so much on your score, but to focus on what improvements you can make in service to improve your score.

We often get stuck in ruts and assume we know what is best for our customers, but we may be missing valuable information on what our customers really want.  Learn what your customer wants and then give to them, it is that simple.  You may be surprised at what your clients will say.  Use these comments to upgrade and improve your customer satisfaction and watch your business grow.

Learn more about the author, Stephen Cancler.

Comment on this article

  • Energetic Speaking Coach for Entrepreneurs & NPOs 
Bellevue, Washington 
Pamela Ziemann
    Posted by Pamela Ziemann, Bellevue, Washington | Jun 03, 2008

    Thanks for sharing your ideas. You obviously care about your customers And being profitable. Good combination!

  • Social Business and Competitive Intelligence 
Everett, Washington 
Barry Hurd
    Posted by Barry Hurd, Everett, Washington | Jun 03, 2008

    Holy smokes Batman... I agree. I agree a lot.

    The entire reason I network with people is to try and treat them as much like clients as I can afford to.

    My basic idea:
    Every person is related to fifty others.
    Like people attract like people.

    If you understand both of those items, every successful client is connected to another fifty potential successes.

    I think the key is asking and taking action.

  • Green Designated Realtor, Referrer 
Bellevue, Washington 
Helen Martin
    Posted by Helen Martin, Bellevue, Washington | Jun 03, 2008

    Great article Stephen, I look forward to hearing more from you. Who knew you were so much more than just a wonderful home inspector!



  • Professional Painting & Remodeling 
Seattle, Washington 
Beacher Morris
    Posted by Beacher Morris, Seattle, Washington | Jun 04, 2008

    ...and you learn something everyday :) thanks for the article Stephen.

  • Creative Clarity Coach 
Bainbridge Island, Washington 
Jennifer Manlowe
    Posted by Jennifer Manlowe, Bainbridge Island, Washington | Jun 04, 2008

    Thanks Stephen. Very practical tips that I need to consider more. I wish I'd kept better track of my earliest clients (many of whom were "trades"). I was so "green" and not in the environmentalist sense. I think I was so grateful to be able to share my "methods" for helping people create "right work" that I didn't hear what they needed nor reflect back to them what I heard.

    My old practice was like inviting people to a potluck dinner and then stuffing them with the dish that I brought because I think it tastes the greatest!

    Now, in my 2nd year as an Indie, I'm learning to hear what makes a client happy and one who might refer me. Listening to them and what they think they need is the best advice I've gotten to date. Thank gawd for clients who speak up.

  • Trainer and Coach 
Foxboro, Massachusetts 
Jen Vondenbrink
    Posted by Jen Vondenbrink, Foxboro, Massachusetts | Jun 04, 2008

    Great article Stephen. From the get go, I wanted to know what my clients thought about our sessions. I received positive and constructive feedback. I continue to do this. It has helped me in the development of my website. I even use some of the discussions as subjects of my blogs.

    What I found interesting was the referral part. I have a more difficult time asking them to referr me to their friends. Based on Barry's comment about how everyone is related to 50 other people, I will be doing more of this with my clients. Thanks!

    Jen Vondenbrink - Life Simplified

  • Seattle printing, mailing, marketing solutions 
Kirkland, Washington 
David Berkey
    Posted by David Berkey, Kirkland, Washington | Jun 04, 2008

    As Robin agreed with Batman above; so do I. Being in the printing services arena, customer satisfaction and referrals is the difference between using the iron (presses) located here or there. (My sale or theirs.) Clients have choices, and they talk. The article points one great system to measure improvement opportunities. Thanks, Stephen.

  • donation evaluator 
Portland, Oregon 
Chris Lorca Harrison
    Posted by Chris Lorca Harrison, Portland, Oregon | Jun 05, 2008

    I once heard that good news travel very slowly but bad news at the speed of light. Finding out your business weaknesses and addressing them has to be done by getting honest feedback asap. To speed up the good news traveling speed and getting referrals is easier when you make your customers feel invested in your success. Ask them if they would be willing to speak with potential new customers or would they write a letter of referral you can quote on your website.

  • Building Inspector 
Seattle, Washington 
Stephen Cancler
    Posted by Stephen Cancler, Seattle, Washington | Jun 05, 2008

    Thanks for your comment Chris. Good suggestion! I hand out SASE at each inspection asking for testimonials about my service. I keep them in a file and use them in newsletters, however I have never used them on my website.

  • Residential Housekeeper 
Kenmore, Washington 
Judith Bennett
    Posted by Judith Bennett, Kenmore, Washington | Jun 05, 2008

    I am a refurall only small business, so these ideas are really helpful to get good feedback from my clients and improve some of the services I provide...thank you so much

    Judith Maid 4 You

  • President and Chief Advocate 
Woodinville, Washington 
Blaine Millet
    Posted by Blaine Millet, Woodinville, Washington | Jun 06, 2008

    Stephen - spot on! Companies don't use the power of their customer base for many activities - selling being one of them. We approach it from the same perspective - if you have built Loyalty with them, then by all means use them to help you in furthering your cause.

    They didn't become loyal because they just think you are "OK" they are loyal because they "believe" in you and "trust" you and that is powerful stuff. Nice points. Thanks.

  • Building Inspector 
Seattle, Washington 
Stephen Cancler
    Posted by Stephen Cancler, Seattle, Washington | Jun 06, 2008

    Thanks for your comments Blaine- I send out 22 touches a year to clients to deliver useful info and ask for referrals. I want them to know that I am always available to answer questions or help solve problems. I want to be their building consultant for life! Like you say, this builds 'loyalty and trust.'

    I liked your comments in your article about being "disruptive". Vanilla just doesn't cut it anymore, we need to think outside the "box" and be more proactive, especially with our service follow up.