A new way to think about referrals and customer service

Imagine instead of casting a net far and wide for a plentiful catch of referrals, your business actually refers customers to other firms. Sounds crazy. Let us explain. Every business loves referrals: they’re a great way to generate sales and strengthen relationships with customers and partners. Normally, you want as many as possible, but we’re going to flip the script here.

This kind of “reverse referral” is part of a broader trend in which service providers, including insurance brokers, are creating partnerships across industry lines to better serve their customers.

For example, a customer may need drain cleaning and we could refer them to a trusted plumber. Same goes for tree removal, accounting, software and so on.

To successfully pull off this kind of referral, businesses need to stop thinking in terms of hoarding customers for themselves. A more productive approach is to actively seek opportunities to meet more of their needs.

If we need to go beyond our walls to do so – we’re okay with that. This actually helps us do more business because customers will remember the time their broker directed them to someone who was able to meet their needs.

There’s also a practical side: customers have needs other than insurance and by default, no one company can meet every single need. What we can do is become something of a range extender to put more possibilities in their reach. It only makes sense to point them in the right direction when the conversation departs from insurance.

That being said, we must be careful when referring customers. We have to be certain our partners can actually meet their needs so that we’re not promising something we cannot deliver.

Otherwise, we risk undermining the customer’s trust and souring relationships with those partners.

To avoid disappointing customers, always do your homework on the organizations to which you’re referring them. Take time to nourish that relationship and get to know the people in those firms. If you would trust them with your own business, then it may be safe to refer your own clientele.

Understand your customers’ needs very well and determine if your partners’ services are a good fit. Remember, it has to work for all parties involved or there’s no point in making these connections if someone isn’t benefiting. We refer to that as “everyone wins.”

Let us know if you’re applying this approach in your business.