More KBB retailers should be asking for customer recommendations, says expert

Not enough KBB retailers are encouraging their customers to recommend them, according to an exclusive survey for kbbreview by consultant Toby Griffin.

On average, just under half (44%) of KBB retailers do not actively try to get customers to recommend their business, but around 80% of clients come through word of mouth.

Griffin polled top KBB retailers to find out if, and how, they get customer recommendations. While 44% do not do anything, more than a third (36%) said that they do ask customers for recommendations.

Griffin said in his analysis in the August issue of kbbreview: “They [recommendations] are vital to the survival and growth of any retailer… If methods and approaches could be implemented that could increase the chances of your customers recommending you, then you’ll have more leads (and brilliant leads at that) for little or no cost. It’s time for some deep analysis on this topic to see what can be learnt.”

Despite only a third actively asking for recommendations, referrals are the number-one way retailers get their clients. David Barker, managing director of marketing specialist Inspire KBB, says that 80% of his client’s business comes from recommendations.

Global consulting firm BCG agrees, having found that word-of-mouth recommendations are between two and 10 times more effective than other forms of marketing. In addition, analytics specialist Nielsen found in its research that consumers were 77% more likely to buy a product if their friends recommended it.

Incentivising clients with rewards is one way some retailers get recommendations, but only 3% of the retailers polled did this. For those who offer rewards, some give gifts like chocolates or wine when they leave a review or run an incentives programme where clients get cash when they review the showroom.

Some other ways retailers get reviews emerged from Griffin’s survey: 17% said that they email customer links to do a review, while one suggested giving the customer a form to fill out at their final visit once the work has been completed, so the review is completed then and there.

Many retailers believe they do not need to encourage their clients to recommend them if their customers are satisfied with their project, as they will spread the word anyway. Muhammad Jawad, general manager at KBB specialist House and Haven in the West Midlands, said: “Encouraging a customer to recommend you only works if you do an excellent job in the first place.

“I believe if I have done a great job from start to finish, then I won’t even need to mention recommending myself or the company, as the customer will automatically do that.”

 Stephen Atkinson, a partner at Waterloo Bathrooms in Birkenhead, added: “At the moment, we do nothing to encourage customers to recommend us. We’ve been going for 30 years, so we don’t have to. We’ve always stuck to reasonable brands and good service.”

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