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Engagement – Fuelling Word of Mouth Referrals

Mark Topley / 16 Feb 2018

Earlier this week, Chris Barrow wrote a great post on generating more business through word of mouth referral and recommendation. You can read it here…

Chris quoted that rather clever marketing guru Seth Godin, and the principle of building a 1,000 strong following by enrolling 10 people you know, to ask 10 people they know, to recommend you – the word of mouth multiplier.

The power of the personal recommendation is clear – and I see it every day in my feeds, with locals (including me) asking for recommendations on community pages. A positive view of the company from people with no vested interest gets you business.

But how do you drive that willingness to recommend?

Of course, service has to be good and the customer experience positive for patients to recommend you. For staff, incentive based schemes have some effect, as well as a system to get your team to ask for recommendations (CB’s MR CREST acronym).

As I see it, the key and common factor for both customers and team is ENGAGEMENT – to what degree are staff and patients engaged, connected emotionally, and positive about the practice or company as a whole? Unsurprisingly if you’ve read blogs on this website, my view is that CSR, and cause & community interaction in particular, has a massive impact on engagement.

According to Glassdoor, the employer rating site, the top indicator of workplace happiness is not pay and conditions, but culture and values. Creating a sense of purpose at work through CSR activity is a critical component for engagement, and employees who are engaged are more likely to recommend the company to friends and family, report fewer sick days, stay longer with their companies, are able to weather more organisational change, and tend to be higher performers. Clear reasons you should be engaging staff through CSR (and other activities) if you want more referrals.

The team are only one half of the equation. When it comes to patients and customers recommending you, CSR is a factor in more than 8 out of 10 people’s consideration when recommending a business, as the CONE 2015 social responsibility study points out:

“More than eight-in-10 consider CSR when deciding what to buy or where to shop (84 percent), which products and services to recommend to others (82 percent), which companies they want to see doing business in their communities (84 percent) and where to work (79 percent).”

Generating new leads through word of mouth is fundamental to growing your business. You’ll need to train and motivate your team to gather recommendations. You’ll need to inspire patients and customers to write reviews and recommend you to their friends. CSR can play a significant part in increasing the level of engagement you need to drive both of these.