The key to growing your business is to maximize your referral sources. An underutilized referral source is word-of-mouth referrals from clients who already use your business. Home care agencies spend more time and resources on developing new referral sources than they do on existing client referrals.
Every day your clients are engaged in brand-related conversations, and one of the topics they discuss is the care they receive from your agency.
People generally aren’t shy about sharing product or service reviews with their friends. Consumers feel trust in a service following conversations with their family and friends. What does this mean for you?
This means you shouldn’t be solely seeking new clients through your marketing efforts, but you should be tapping into past and existing clients as a referral source to increase sales.
Word of mouth drives an impressive 20 - 50% of all purchasing decisions. Think about your purchasing decisions, aren’t you more likely to watch a movie based on the reactions of your friends?
If there were two movie options and your friend raved about the first one, there is a high probability that this would be the one you’d pay good money to watch.
Here are some important reasons to invest your time in creating a successful client referral program:
When your client takes the time to reach out to a friend or family member about your home care business, they subconsciously affirm the value of your service. Thinking about how well you have taken care of them and confirming this to the potential client helps them to remember exactly what they like about your company.
While other home care marketing sources require you to pay per click, hire a full-time marketer, and/or spend money at trade shows, client referrals cost your company nothing. Word of mouth is not only the most powerful driver of sales, but it is also the cheapest.
Once you establish a way to harness home care referrals from your past and existing clients, it will become a stable, long-term referral source for your business.
When it comes to the psychology of why people buy, there is credible research that proves that asking for a favor from a potential client or customer increases the likelihood of a completed sale because of the perceptions of reciprocity.
A study, by Simon Blanchard, an assistant professor of marketing at Georgetown University, explored whether there is anything a marketer can do to increase the chance of closing a sale.
He concluded that offering a customer a discount is seen as a mere ploy by the consumer, but when coupled with a favor, it was seen as less of a ploy and more of a negotiation and relationship building with the consumer.
This also applies to clients that already use your services. Subconsciously, knowing that you have asked them to do you a favor makes them feel like they are more than just a dollar sign to you and your home care agency.
Research shows that we like people for whom we’ve done favors. Benjamin Franklin once noted, “He that has once done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you have obliged."
Think about how many leads and sales calls it takes to close one deal from a third-party referral website like care.com. The closing rate isn’t that good, especially when compared to word-of-mouth referrals.
Companies see up to an 80% closing rate when the referral comes from a strong client referral. Contrast this with third-party referral sources that have an average closing rate of less than 15%.
The customer lifetime value is the total worth of a customer to a business over the whole period the customer is with the company. This is an important KPI for your agency to measure quarterly because it costs less to keep your existing clients compared to acquiring new ones. So focusing on increasing the value of your existing clients is a great way to grow your agency.
A study by Philipp Schmitt, Bernd Skiera, and Christophe Van den Bulte (June 2011) shows that bank customers who were referred by their friends stayed with the bank 18% longer than those from other marketing referral sources.
One reason for this could be that when a client recommends your home care agency, they know the pertinent information that their friend or family member is looking for and what you provide, making it easier to ensure that the clients will be a good fit for your agency.
Client Referral Marketing (CRM) is a potent strategy for growing your home care agency by harnessing the power of satisfied clients. Here's a step-by-step guide to understanding how CRM operates:
Start by identifying the clients you've cared for—both past and present—who have had exceptional experiences with your agency. These individuals are your ideal referral candidates.
Cultivate and invest in building lasting relationships with these clients. Find opportunities to exceed their expectations and "wow" them whenever you can. The stronger the connection, the more likely they are to become enthusiastic advocates for your agency.
Once you've nurtured a solid relationship, it's time to make the referral request. Ask if they know anyone in need of home care services or if they'd be willing to recommend your agency to their friends, family, or acquaintances.
Referrals from satisfied clients can be a significant source of growth for your home care agency. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to encourage quality referrals from your clients:
First and foremost, to get more clients through referrals, your home care agency needs to meet and exceed expectations. Achieving this requires a collective effort from everyone in your agency, from caregivers to office staff. Make over-delivering a fundamental part of your company culture. Here's how to do it:
Company-Wide Commitment: Ensure that everyone, from the time of hire, embraces the concept of exceeding client expectations.
Continuous Reinforcement: Include this commitment in quarterly evaluations to ensure that everyone is on board and following suit.
Proactive Customer Service Calls: Implement a system in your CRM or project management software to schedule customer service calls at key points, such as two weeks, one month, and ninety days after onboarding.
Staying Connected: Regular contact with clients post-sale helps nurture the relationship into a long-term connection and provides insights into how to offer them more value.
Effective Over-Deliver Program: Key factors include good listening skills, anticipating and addressing clients' needs, personalizing interactions, delivering tasks ahead of schedule, and using a CRM to document interactions and gather staff input.
Client Feedback Loop: Gather regular feedback from your clients and use it to continuously improve their care.
Customer loyalty programs are effective tools for retaining existing clients and generating more referrals. Follow the Three Rs framework—Rewards, Relevance, and Recognition:
Offer incentives that provide value to your clients:
Donate to a Cause: Allocate a portion of their monthly payment to a charitable cause of their choice, enhancing their sense of purpose and community.
Refer a Friend: Reward clients when they refer friends or family, creating a win-win situation.
Reward Points: Create a loyalty program where clients earn points for their loyalty, perhaps culminating in a free month after a year of service.
Tailor your loyalty program to your clients' preferences by gathering their input through surveys or customer service calls. Focus your marketing strategy on the options they choose.
Show appreciation to your clients through personal gestures through any of the following:
Personalized Thank-You Notes: Periodically express your gratitude and appreciation.
Client of the Month: Feature standout clients in your monthly newsletter and on social media.
Client Appreciation Parties: Host annual gatherings to foster personal connections.
Birthday Cards or E-Cards: Recognize clients on their special day with a thoughtful gesture.
Thank You Videos: Utilize video content to humanize your agency and connect with clients during onboarding or to express gratitude for referrals.
Not too many people would say no to a gift card from Target or Amazon. If you want your clients to go out of their way and scroll through their phone books, you might need to pony up a little cash and reward them for their efforts.
When asking for referrals, you should keep in mind the availability of your clients. They have busy lives, mingling with friends, having family members visit, and going to game night. The question here is how can you make it easy for them to refer leads to your agency.
Instead of asking and hoping they follow through with their word, find a way to make it easy for them to refer, such as in the following ways:
Send them a fillable email template. Here’s an example of one you can send to them to write their names and forward to their friends.
I’ve been using ABC home care services for some time now and they help me with prepping and cooking meals, bathing, dressing, and grooming needs. They provide an array of services that I think you would find useful.
I would like to formally introduce you to John, the customer success specialist, he will call you to find out more about your needs and get you squared away.
[Referral], meet [Your Name]. [Your Name], meet [Referral], you are in good hands going forward.
Talk to you later.
Send the client a note in an envelope with fields to complete the referral information: Name, number, address, and any other information needed.
Give it to the caregiver to take to the client and get the caregiver to pick it up at a later date. Before you do this, you should have spoken to the client about this so that they are prepared, and it also allows them to make the initial contact with their friends and family.
There are many client referral applications available for the more tech-savvy clients you may have. ReferralCandy is one that you can subscribe to and help your clients to download. They can simply enter the lead information and you will be notified of the referral.
You want your clients to talk about your agency so use the over-deliver opportunities to get them to share their experiences with their friends on their social media accounts.
For example, you call them to check on their customer service experience and they rave about the caregiver. Thank them for the feedback and tell them you will send them an email with a review link that they can complete and share with their social media accounts.
Potential clients love a good story, and having someone they know to give a positive review about your company can compel them to pick up the phone and give your agency a call.
In short, word-of-mouth referrals from your clients are the most powerful and effective tools you have in your arsenal for customer acquisition. It is the least expensive marketing expense you have and has the highest conversion rate.
Having a customer referral program not only increases your census but it helps to build a better long-term relationship with your clients. Take advantage of this and reap the benefits of an effective customer referral program.
Quality referrals are the lifeblood of your home care agency's growth. By consistently exceeding expectations and implementing a well-structured customer loyalty program, you can foster strong client relationships and turn them into enthusiastic advocates. Remember, satisfied clients are your best source of referrals, and nurturing these connections is the key to lasting success.