Better Than Referrals – Share the Customer Experience

A crisis like a global pandemic makes everybody re-assess and re-evaluate what’s important to them. And that includes your customers. So don’t assume you know what they want – make sure you continue to keep in touch with them.

This is not just for loyalty purposes. It can also be a valuable source of new customers – if you do it right.

Here’s an example …

In the highly-competitive world of financial advice, financial planning businesses must work harder than ever before to attract new clients. This has become especially important since recent changes to the industry in Australia, where advisers have to charge a fee for their service (rather than earning commissions from products they recommend to clients) and have to demonstrate ongoing value to clients for those fees.

One business has seen this as an opportunity rather than a problem, and combines these two ideas in a way that adds value to existing clients while also attracting new clients.

They host a quarterly “Market Update” online presentation for their clients, reporting on the state of the market, describing the impact of recent events (such as an election or change to legislation), and highlighting important future trends.

Their online presentation software (they use Zoom now, but GoToWebinar when they first started this) allows a virtually unlimited number of attendees, so the business could throw open the presentation to everybody, and use it as a public marketing channel.

But they didn’t do this.

Instead, they want to offer this as an exclusive value-added benefit to clients, so they restrict attendance to clients only. However, they do still use it as a marketing opportunity, because each client is given two “free tickets” to invite somebody from their network: family, friends, work colleagues, or anybody else they wish.

By doing this, each presentation becomes a win-win-win opportunity:

  • The clients get exclusive access to valuable information from their financial adviser, and get to extend this to two friends.
  • The friends also get access to this valuable information, with no obligation or pressure to buy anything or switch financial advisers.
  • The business adds value to their clients and gets the chance to demonstrate their value to a new, warm, friendly audience.

This is better than a referral.

The idea of asking your customers for referrals is not new. But most businesses don’t ask for referrals consistently. Sometimes they don’t have a consistent system for it, but more often it’s because the process seems “icky”: You feel awkward asking for a referral, and even happy customers are highly protective of their friends.

Think of the three ways you attract new customers:

  1. Without: You reach out to them independently of any relationship they might have with existing customers.
  2. Through: You ask existing customers for referrals.
  3. With: You ask existing customers to invite prospects to share the same experience as the customers themselves.

This third method is more powerful than a simple referral, because the prospect genuinely shares the same experience, in a low-pressure, no-obligation way.

This hasn’t been as easy in the past, because providing an experience comes at a cost for each extra person. But in our digital, social, connected world, it’s easier than ever to provide high-quality experiences at a low – or zero – marginal cost.

How can you extend your customer experience to prospects?

Here are three thinking points for you to bring in more new customers this way:

  1. What are you already doing for customers that you could easily extend to prospects?
  2. What more could you do that adds extra value for customers (that you could also extend to prospects)?
  3. How can you enrol your customers in inviting these prospects to share these experiences?


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