Earn Referrals by Becoming Remarkable

Clients ask me all the time how to get more referrals.

Clients ask me all the time how to get more referrals. Many experts teach that you should ask for more referrals if you want them, but I don’t agree. The “If you don’t ask, you won’t get” philosophy does not work with referrals. I have been writing this column for almost 2 years, and I believe, based on feedback, that it is valued by you, the readers. So now I have a favor to ask. My son recently completed his life insurance sales training, and he passed the license test to be able to sell life insurance. He needs some clients right away. Can you please email me some referrals for him so he can get his business going?
If your immediate reaction to my question was, “Sure, I’ll do that,” you are in a very small minority. Most people would avoid me like the plague if I kept asking for referrals for my son’s life insurance business. You see, asking doesn’t really help. Now, you might argue that if I get even one referral, that is more than I had before. True, but how many of you did I alienate by asking? (By the way, my son does not sell life insurance. That was only an example.)
So, how do you get more referrals? Become remarkable. Be a shop people love to talk about. Be a shop your customers want to brag about. If I asked you for a recommendation for a restaurant in your town, you could probably give me one. Did they ask you to do that? I doubt it. If they did, and they weren’t remarkable, would you recommend them to me? I doubt it. It’s simple: Be remarkable, and people will remark about you, thus leading to referrals.
I wrote a blog post a while back about a kid named Jerry who was working in an ice cream shop at the Denver International Airport. He was all alone and a line was forming. His ability to serve each customer completely, while keeping the line moving was so remarkable, I blogged about it, and it has been picked up by others. 
What makes a shop remarkable? What can you do that will cause your customers to say, “Wow?” How can you surprise them in a good way? How do you go above and beyond for your customers? You’ve probably heard stories about companies or people within those companies that have gone beyond the expected and made a lasting impression with a customer. What can you do to make that same impression?
Even better, what can you do to encourage your people to do it on your behalf? When Jan Carlson worked to turn Scandinavian Airlines into one of the world’s best airlines, he taught the employees to recognize what he coined as a “moment of truth:” those times when the employee could truly make a valuable difference for a customer. Those moments of truth became remarkable.
Clearly, you have to be a capable shop, but if you want to be remarkable, it takes more than capability. It takes making a difference for your customer. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, it just has to matter. Charles Luckman, the former CEO of Lever Brothers, tells the story of his first job selling newspapers on a street corner in downtown Kansas City. He noticed people crossed the street to buy the paper from him rather than from a boy on the corner nearest to them. When he asked why, his customers told him it was simply because he said “thank you” each time. Remarkable.
Another way to be remarkable is in the area of service recovery. Studies show that loyal customers are often created when we make mistakes and then fix them. Please don’t read into this that you should mess up more often. I am saying when you make mistakes, it is an opportunity to be remarkable.
My book about marketing, “It’s Not Rocket Science, Using Marketing To Build a Sustainable Business,” will be available on a Kindle soon. The woman we contracted to create the Kindle version has had numerous delays. She has apologized along the way and finally sent us the completed project. She also said she was waiving her fee because it had taken so long. Not only will we pay her, we will refer her to others, just as she was referred to me. She did a great job, and even though she was later than she promised, I am convinced it won’t happen again, and it really did not matter to me. On top of that, she offered to waive her fee. Remarkable.
Find ways today to be remarkable, and you’ll get more referrals without having to ask.