Every company knows that the best way to get new clients and leads is through referrals. They go through a very elaborate marketing exercise of putting together an extensive referral program with many incentives for clients as well as salespeople. Once the program is put in place, they will spend a lot of money and effort in planning the execution and messaging surrounding it.
Six months go by, the return on investment of the referral program is dismal. What went wrong?
Everyone gathers around the conference room table discussing what happened.
- Clients did not see the email and the message.
- Incentive was not big enough.
- Execution was lacking.
- We don't hear complaints from clients, why don't we get referrals?
When I spent time with employees that have feet on the ground, such as support and sales, the picture becomes very clear. Clients are not referring others to our company and product because they are not happy.
The question is, if they're not happy, why don't we hear complaints?
You don't hear complaints because they have literally given up. When a client is new they want to feel good; they want to like your product because they made the investment, and they want to make it work. So they engage in a lot of discussion, come up with many suggestions. They sound like they are complaining. What they get on the other end of the phone is indifference and insensitivity.
Some clients leave, some stay depending on their level of threshold of pain. If someone leaves, employees say that they were a bad client to begin with. And they will be very quick to point out that 90% of the clients don't complain.
What all this means is that most clients have stopped complaining because they know that they are not going to get heard anyway.
Here is what I suggest. The top management should go on a road trip visiting every client on the route. Let the clients know that we are here to listen to them.
Now tell me that clients don't have any complaints!