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The Power of Referrals

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July 7, 2020—Did you know that 92 percent of consumers trust referrals from people they know? Even better, the same Nielsen study found that people are four times more likely to buy a product or service when referred by a friend.

Dusty Dunkle, president of Customer Research Inc., says the top referral source has always been from friends and family. And now with social media involved, Dunkle says the power of word-of-mouth is 100 times more influential, especially because customers can now rate and review their experience at your business.

"What's interesting to me is how the landscape has changed so much with social media," Dunkle says. "What's surprising is that customers drive the brand; we're not in the driver's seat anymore."

In fact, 55 percent of consumers share their purchases socially on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other social sites, according to a MarketShare study, while 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on social media referrals, according to an SDL survey.

When a consumer is looking for something, Google's primary goal is to serve up what people want to see, according to Dunkle, and the more ratings and reviews under your business, the higher up your business will appear in searches.

So how do you ensure your customers are in that 55 percent? Here are two ways to do so.

'Wow' Them

For producing customer referrals, Dunkle says it's all about wowing the customer.

"It's not about customer satisfaction, it's about customer loyalty," Dunkle says. "When you wow a customer, that's what gets people talking."

Dunkle says operators should take the focus off of doing the job and put the focus on going above and beyond to leave and impression on your customer.

And because customers can be so critical these days, according to Dunkle, he says there's only one way to separate yourself from the competition: giving a little extra. Dunkle says operators have to ask themselves what their competitors are doing and how they can go above them and take that extra step.

Respond to the Criticism

A big problem Dunkle sees is that a lot of business owners are not responding to reviews, especially bad ones. Even worse? Some business owners get too emotional when reading their own reviews, leading them to respond in an impromptu way.

"Many consumers want to seek out poor reviews to see how a business deals with that," Dunkle says.

Instead of going toward the two extremes, meet them right in the middle; respond to the review, apologize for the inconvenience, and share how you will fix the issue.

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