The Power of Empathy: How to Generate Referrals Through Authentic Customer Experience
With the ongoing challenges related to hiring, service delivery, and management in the home service industry, can business owners truly design a superior customer experience to deliver business referrals?
The answer is yes. And it all starts with empathy: the ability to share and understand someone else’s feelings, thoughts, or experiences.
Most home service business owners understand the value of delivering excellent customer service. It’s a qualification identified in almost any job position. Websites and social media platforms tout testimonials from satisfied customers. Yet online reviews and customer net promoter scores often reveal a very different picture with a seemingly insurmountable gap between what customers want and what contractors deliver.
Many organizations are taking a deeper dive into company culture to close the gap and achieve real customer-led growth. The results can be remarkable when the company culture is based on a genuine, authentic commitment to delivering a high-quality experience to clients at every stage of their journey. Here are four key steps to designing a company culture and customer experience to generate referrals.
- Define a great customer experience. What do customers want? Create and maintain easy and open communication channels so you can understand the needs and expectations of the people you serve. Build long-term relationships to ensure you deliver the value, convenience, and quality they want. Create a documented process that becomes your customer experience roadmap. It helps build the culture of how your team treats clients and how you do business.
- Hire and retain team members who fit the culture. Maintaining a rigorous standard can be challenging during a tight labor market. Due diligence and patience on the front end save time and trouble later, supporting your goal of delivering an extraordinary experience. Hire slow and fire-fast, as the adage goes. And while the fire-fast portion sounds harsh, no one should get in the way of your brand promise and team culture. Ideally, you never hire a negative or corrosive team member. But when confronted with such an individual, you must fix it and do it fast as the owner, leader, or manager.
- Build detailed customer files. Use the right technology to maintain personalized customer communication. Suppose your CRM makes it easy to identify and pull up customer files. In that case, the customer service representative can acknowledge the relationship and access prior service dates and other details to help your customer feel valued. It is a critical part of your ongoing service for those on an annual maintenance plan. For new customers, CRM file building can start a long-term relationship.
- Review your customer referral program. A simple audit of your offer, marketing communication, and customer accessibility can tell much about future program success. Start with the basics. Consider how your customers will perceive the value you place on their referrals.
- What incentives are you offering?
- How quick is your payout?
- How are you communicating your referral program?
Make your customer referral experience seamless and painless. Referral marketing should weave into who you are and how you operate to deliver new business consistently. Create an understandable structure for your referral program and communicate it to customers.
About the Author
Catherine Bares is a Service Coach and Trainer at Business Development Resources (BDR), the premier business training and coaching provider to the home service industry. With over 21 years of experience in the HVAC industry, Catherine is passionate about service and using great customer experiences to increase revenue while building long-term relationships within the community.