Satisfaction doesn’t mean referrals

February 13, 2016

The image above is one of my favourite Melbourne locations for coffee, and italian food. An institution in Melbourne since the 1960’s I tell everyone I know who visits Melbourne they must go there. And since Pelligrini’s haven’t changed their menu since the 1960’s they must be doing something right.

However, even though their customers are very satisfied, this doesn’t necessarily mean they would get referrals. The same holds true for any business – including your’s – so why doesn’t satisfaction automatically lead to a lot of word of mouth?

I’d like to discuss some of the reasons why in this short blog, and very happy to have your input to the discussion.

1. Sensitivity

For whatever reason, your particular product or service might have some level of sensitivity or privacy associated with it. People might be less likely to refer their bank manager to a friend than their hair dresser. They may be very satisfied with their bank, but maybe for some reason they don’t want to discuss finances, or banking – even on a surface level.

2. Reputation

When someone your product or service to someone else, they are not only recommending, but putting their reputation on the line as well. So even if they really liked what you do, and trusted you to do their work – they might not pass on your name simply because the risk to their reputation might outweigh the ‘word of mouth’

3. Importance/Visibility

With certain product categories, the importance to that individual or visibility in their daily life so low that they just don’t even think of referring you to their friends and family. Let’s say they might love your cereal or toilet paper, but are they going to wax lyrical and speak publicly about how much they love your product? Will they recommend you because you were amazing at replacing their worn brake pads? This will vary by the individual and it’s not easy to know what a person will see as important or not important.

4. Just don’t do it

Behaviourally, some people just don’t refer. They’re not interested in sharing their positive opinions with friends, family or colleagues. They may be far more interested in telling you someone is really crap. But they don’t pass on the good products and services in the same way.

5. Satisfied but!

Simply put, satisfaction is NOT grounds for referral for many people. If you deliver what people expect, they’re happy but they’re not necessarily going to run around and hand out your business cards to friends and family. They might not say anything negative about you, but simply being happy with something doesn’t guarantee word of mouth.

Word of mouth comes from doing the over the top, unexpected added value for someone. It doesn’t mean heavy discounting, it means doing a little bit extra – washing the car when you service it, delivering faster than expected, refitting glasses at no cost to a good client, occasionally giving a daily customer a free cuppa. It’s the little bit unexpected that puts a smile on someone’s face that could lead to word of mouth – providing you don’t provide a service fixing haemorrhoids people will then be more likely to refer you.

And even then, so many of the factors above can get in the way. So don’t just assume your satisfied clients will refer. Find out from them if they would and then do everything you can to enable it.

Have a great day.

Hunter