Word of Mouth Referrals aren’t exactly easy to come by. They take time to generate, and are not something you can advertise for. In fact, asking for referrals never works. The reality is that you create word of mouth referrals through a long lasting, trustworthy relationship. When I speak at events about this specific topic the number 1 question I get is “How do I ask for more referrals?”. Answer: You can’t!
What happens when you ask:
Here’s the thing…when you ask for referrals, you put the person you are asking in an awkward situation, where they feel obligated to answer you and give you something. That results in 2 types of results. The 1st response is “Sure, let me think about it and I will get back to you”. Then they never do. They just told you that so they can get out of the conversation! The 2nd answer you get is “Sure, I know John Doe needs a new financial institution, he’s moving to town, here’s John’s number, give him a call”. John Doe is not a referral, he’s a lead, and less likely to do business with your credit union! In fact, in this case, John specifically wasn’t asking for a new institution, in fact he may be working with another credit union that he is happy with, has no need to change, and really is annoyed his friend gave out his info!
Referrals happen because you build so must trust, and you remain top of mind, that your members will refer you when the opportunity exists….not when they get approached to prospect for you!
So, if that’s true, how to you build a system that you can work with today, that will start to get you more word of mouth referrals?
- Over Deliver – Your members expect the best, but in reality, they expect that you will impress them with your products and service. The customer experience that they have with your credit union must exceed what they anticipate. That means phone calls returned before they expected them. That means they need to be greeted by name when they enter the branch. Exceeding expectations…now that makes you referrable.
- Listening – Ask them questions about their life, their family, and their business. Not because you want to create more account opportunities, but because you truly want to learn more about them. Then listen to their responses. Acknowledge them and ask more questions about what they talked about. People love to be heard, so let them talk, and listen to them, and that will make you referrable!
- Surprise – Your members want to smile, trust me they do. Make them smile by surprising them in many different ways. For instance, recall a previous conversation you had with them. If your member comes in the same day every week, during their birthday week, have a small personal cake waiting for them on that day! Find ways to surprise your members, and make them smile! That makes you referrable!
- Non-Self Serving – Find ways to interact with your members in ways that are clearly not about you or your credit union. One of the best ways is to purchase a number of great business books that you think will be an asset to your business clients, then when they visit the branch, offer them a copy. Be sure to inscribe something just inside the cover making it memorable and personal! For non-business members, consider buying books about the local area. You don’t have to buy thousands of copies to do this. You can be 25-50 copies at a time. Practicing non-self serving acts shows others you care about them, and not yourself, and that makes you referrable!
I refer to these as the 4 pillars of your personal care package. Your personal care package is the unique way that you care about others that establishes trust over time and creates more word of mouth referrals. If you begin practicing these 4 pillars this week, you will begin make deposits into the largest financial institution you could ever deposit into, TCU, the Trustworthy Credit Union! Once you make enough deposits, members will notice, and they will start referring your institution, and specifically you and your team members to their friends, family, and coworkers.