Positive word of mouth about a product or service has always been a key driver of success for businesses large and small. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.
Word of mouth advertising is simply described as:
An unpaid form of promotion in which satisfied customers tell other people how much they like a business, product or service.
Here are ideas to help increase positive word of mouth for your products or services.
Train Your Employees Well
A rude employee can turn off a customer faster than anything. Hiring knowledgeable and friendly team members is just the first step. It’s easy to let your employees learn on the job but don’t skip a comprehensive training program. Teach new employees valuable information about your business and let them know what is expected. The Open Forum blog has a good article about how to educate your employees and help them focus in on the customer experience. How to Train Your Employees in Customer Service.
Above and Beyond Customer Service
Great customer service has almost become a thing of the past. Consumers have grown accustomed to outsourced customer service departments and faceless, electronic assistance. Whether through email, an online chat, over the phone or in person, make stellar customer service a priority. Let customers know that they are interacting with a real person invested in their happiness. Make sure your customer-facing team has thorough knowledge of your inventory, experience with your products and is able to help customers make the best choices.
Do something special to remind customers that you appreciate their business and care about their happiness. Branded swag, like a recyclable shopping bag, t-shirt or water bottle is a great way to delight your customers and get your name out there. Not in your budget? A simple thank you note is always appreciated and will help keep your business top of mind.
Here’s an example of how a small incentive can reap excellent word of mouth.
Scenario: On a Saturday morning at a busy small business, a check out line has screeched to a halt behind a slow customer returning items. A manager guided all in line to a new checkout station and offered them a coupon for $3.00 off.
Outcome: Everyone loves a coupon! Shoppers were surprised by the solution and went on to post their good fortune on Facebook and tell family and friends about their experience.
One reason customers might not organically promote your business is because they are simply too busy. You can put strategies in place to gently nudge your customers to recommend your business to friends, family and colleagues. Consider making a phone call to your customer or simply send an email asking them to recommend your business. Train your staff to ask happy customers to recommend your products or services.
Make Word of Mouth Easy
With social media, word of mouth referrals are easy to capture. Here are strategies to help your customers help you:
- Referral Cards
Create a preprinted card about your business that your customers can give to a friend. The Referral Rock Blog has an article: Examples of Referral Card Ideas and Quotes That Work
- Online Reviews
Let your customers know that they can review your products or services online via Yelp or Google reviews. Be sure to monitor all of your online reviews. If a customer has had a problem, work to get it resolved quickly.
Ask for Testimonials
Testimonials from happy customers (short statements praising your business) are powerful endorsements and can spark good word of mouth. Get in the habit of asking for them.
Once you’ve secured a testimonial, post them on your website, on your social media pages, in your advertising, in your store. Make sure they are readily available to the public.
Social Check In
If you have a bricks and mortar store, ask your customers to check in online when they visit. It’s as simple as tapping a few keys on their smartphone and tells others that they frequent your business.
Check out our blog for more information about turning customers into advocates for your business:
Do you need extra funds for your small business? An SBA loan is the best bet for small businesses with low rates, long terms and low monthly payments. Visit SmartBiz Loans® today and discover in about five minutes if you’re qualified to apply for an SBA loan with one of our bank partners. Use the promo code “blog” and receive $500 off of your closing costs. Check out our great reviews on TrustPilot!