6 Tips to Build Your Customer Referral Program

Do you have a customer referral program yet? If you don’t, you’re missing out.

Long before the internet, before the rise of Madison Ave and ad men, and even the printing press, there was word of mouth. While we keep coming up with new and unique ways to sell products and services, we’ll never be able to beat organic word-of-mouth marketing.

But we can incentivize it.

Referral marketing does just that. Referral marketing activates your biggest source of marketers—your customers—and encourages them to share your products and services with their friends, family, coworkers, and community.

Before we share some of the top customer referral ideas, let’s take a look at referral marketing and how you can develop a program to acquire new customers on autopilot.

Why spend time on customer referrals?

Marketers have a lot on their plates already. From paid media to content marketing, they’re balancing a lot. Why should they add a customer referral program? Because the data says so.

Referral marketing is one of the most underrated, underutilized, and yet most effective types of marketing out there. In fact, 28% of people say word of mouth is their preferred way to learn about new brands, products, or services, according to RRD.

People who discover products through customer referrals are also more likely to buy them. The study showed word of mouth has a higher research-to-purchase ratio (40%) than social media (30%), online/digital ads (27%), or print ads (16%).

The most telling number of all? Purchases. The study found that 40% of consumers actually purchased a product after discovering it via word of mouth, topping all other channels.

Plus, referred customers are 18% more loyal, have a 16% higher lifetime value, and have a 13.2% higher spending rate, according to Finances Online. So not having a solid referral program means you could be leaving a lot of money on the table.

If you’re starting from ground zero…

Always start by assessing the state of your current referrals. Gather your marketing, sales, and customer service teams and ask them the following questions:

  • Are we getting referrals?
  • Where are they coming from?
  • What’s their relationship with your customer?
  • Which products/features are they most interested in?
  • Who’s our ideal customer?

With that information in hand, you can start to build your customer referral program. Identify which customers you should target and what you can do to turn them into long-term advocates.

Make customer referrals super easy.

Moving customers from liking (or loving) your product to making a referral is a big step. One is passive (enjoying your product), and the other is active (sharing it with someone and telling them why they should like it too). So the first step in building your customer referral program should be to make sharing your product as easy as possible.

Here are some steps to remove the friction of a referral.

Automate the ask.

Sometimes, referrals just aren’t on your customers’ minds—they need to be asked. The best way to do that? Automate it. Build an SMS referral campaign to get the word out. Send a customer referral text message (it’s much more likely to be read than an email) that shares your referral program and asks customers to join. Whether they take action or not is up to them, but at least you’re ensuring they’ll see it and are fully informed of the benefits.

Write the referral for them.

You want your customers to write effusively about your products or services, but that takes work! When their brains have turned to mush at the end of the day, give them something to work with. Have a copywriter write a short and simple customer referral message and share it with your customers. That way, they’re free to write their own if they want, but at least they have a starting point.

Pick the type of customer referral program.

Your customer referral program can be as simple or as complex as you like. Depending on what you sell, tracking referrals one at a time may be sufficient—especially if you’re just looking for a foot in the door with new customers.

But if volume is your game, then asking for continuous referrals could be more beneficial. If that’s the case, a tiered loyalty program might be for you. Set up different tiers associated with various incentives. As customers refer more friends, or more of their referrals convert, they’ll accrue more points and prizes. Just make sure you set up an easy way for your team and your customers to track their referrals as they climb the ladder.

Contact Us

6 ideas for customer referral incentives.

Once you’ve identified your target customer and how you want to approach them, it’s time for the fun part. How will you reward referrals?

You can choose to reward either party or both. For example, you may give the referrer a free gift and give the person they’re referring a discount code for your product. Alternatively, you can give the new customer a free gift, giving your customer advocate the credit.

There’s no shortage of great ideas for customer referral incentives. Consider these options when putting together your program.

1. Gift product add-ons.

An easy referral gift to start with is a product add-on. This includes things that you would normally sell to enhance your product or improve its quality or longevity. Since your customer has already shared that they like your product by purchasing and then referring it, it only makes sense that they want something to enhance it.

Consider things like sunglasses cleaner for the sunglasses they just bought, tote bags for the items they just stocked up on, or a heat protectant to go with the curling iron they purchased. You get the idea. Give them something that complements your product and that you know they’ll like.

2. Reward referrals with a donation to charity.

Social enterprises have become more popular over the last decade as consumers partner their purchasing power with social goods. Companies like Toms, Bombas, and Warby Parker all have social giving built into the way they run their businesses.

Offer your customers the chance to do some good. Offer a donation to a charity as their referral reward. Whether you pick one that aligns with your brand or gives them several to pick from, it’s a chance to do some good while simultaneously growing your business.

3. Host a referral sweepstakes.

Everyone loves a good sweepstakes, right? Instead of giving a lot of customers a small gift or reward, sweepstakes let you give a few customers large gifts. This can incentivize more people to participate who would otherwise scoff or ignore small gifts.

You can even up the ante by giving customers multiple entries for completed tasks. You can even weigh them depending on how much effort it takes. For example, you can give them one entry for following your brand on social media and two entries for sharing a review.

We like this type of referral program for spreading the word about new products or services. It’s a great way to share your brand, but it doesn’t work as well with relationship-based businesses.

4. Offer product upgrades.

Sometimes monetary and physical gifts aren’t necessary to kickstart your referral program. For customers who already love your product (enough to share referrals!), upgrades can be a big incentive.

If you’re a SaaS product, offer referrers the next product tier or add-on to make their experience better. Service-based businesses can offer an extra hour of their time.

5. Unlock exclusive content.

For many people, the promise of exclusivity is hard to resist. Consider creating bonus content for customers who refer their friends. It could be as small as branded phone wallpapers or as big as a library of templates. You can even help boost sales with an exclusive opportunity to buy new products before anyone else. The sky is the limit.

6. Give a mystery gift.

Another way to play on people’s sensibilities is to give them a mystery gift. Some customers can’t resist a good surprise—and everyone loves a free gift.

Don’t forget the follow-up.

Sharing your referral program shouldn’t be a one-a-done affair. Just like you have to gently remind your customers about sales or product features 6–7 times before they notice, you may need to repeat yourself a few times. Plus, referrals often need some time to marinate. Some customers may love your product right off the bat, but depending on what you sell, it may take a while for them to appreciate it.

Send retargeting messages to remind customers of your referral program at several key points in the sales process. Or set up retargeting ads via social media. Sometimes all your customers need is a little push.

Make referrals a no-brainer.

With a great product or service and a great program in place, referrals should be a no-brainer. A good referral program simply capitalizes and encourages what your customers already do: enjoy your product and share it with friends and family.

Cart Abandonment Skyrocketing? Try Live Chat

You see it all the time. You’ve probably done it yourself. It’s one of the highest abandonment rates of any kind.

You guessed it: Shopping carts.

The poor, lonely online shopping cart. Filled with items you thought you wanted, you hoped you could convince yourself to buy, and maybe some misguided additions from late-night browsing.

It has practically become a national pastime. And while it’s expected, it’s also difficult to manage in the e-commerce world. Finding cart abandonment solutions can feel like an uphill battle, but it’s all about making small changes to your online shopping experience.

Keep reading for some strategies to reduce cart abandonment rates with live chat.

Let’s dive into cart abandonment statistics.

For the uninitiated, shopping cart abandonment is when online customers add items to their shopping carts and exit the page without making a purchase. It’s an expected but frustrating part of the e-commerce experience.

And it happens way more than you think. According to SaleCycle, the average shopping cart abandonment rate in 2021 was 80.68%. Here is how it breaks down by industry:

  • Retail: 73.86%
  • Fashion: 83.98%
  • Travel: 86.3%
  • Utilities: 86.85%

Now, what is the standard cart abandonment rate in 2022? Statistics vary widely, so the Baymard Institute took the average of 48 sources and came up with 69.99%. That’s not a small number.

Why do online shoppers abandon their shopping carts?

Not all cart abandonment is the same—and we shouldn’t treat it as such. There are many different reasons customers stop shipping mid-purchase, and only some of them have to do with your business.

  1. Difficult checkout processes: Online shoppers are greatly influenced by how easy it is to make a purchase. Do they have to create an account? Can they pay through Paypal or other easy payment methods? Or do they have to search for their credit card and enter their information physically? SaleCycle found that 34% of retail shoppers abandon checkout because they are forced to create an account.
  2. Unexpected costs: According to SaleCycle, 23% of retail shoppers abandoned carts due to shipping issues. When shipping costs and other fees aren’t tacked on until the very end of a purchase, customers may abandon the checkout process altogether.
  3. Unfriendly mobile experience: If there’s any friction in the checkout process due to a poor mobile experience or any other technical issues, only committed customers will try to troubleshoot the problem. Many will give up, and you’ll lose the sale.
  4. Price shopping: E-commerce has made it really easy to shop around for low prices, so many customers will add items to their cart and then head to other websites to search for a lower price. SaleCycle says 18% of retail shoppers abandoning their carts are doing this.
  5. Low buying intentions: Some use shopping carts as a way to curate their top selections, treating them more like a favorites list. These shoppers are more likely to add tons of items to their carts without any intention of finalizing the entire purchase.
  6. Distractions: Some customers simply get bored, distracted, or pulled away from their devices.

Start by collecting customer feedback.

Before you spend too much time and effort on finding a solution to your cart abandonment problem, spend some time figuring out why your customers aren’t completing the purchase. First, identify your abandonment rate, then survey customers to see why it’s happening. It could be a problem with your checkout process, mobile responsiveness, or return policies.

Start by surveying your customers with live chat (also known as web chat). Place a chatbot on your shopping cart page and trigger a survey when customers turn to leave. While you won’t be able to get information from every cart abandoner, you’ll get a general idea of the problems you need to solve.

Once you’ve checked in with your customers, you can start searching for the right cart abandonment solutions.

Start conversations at the right time.

Live chat gives customers an easy way to talk to your service team directly from your website. If you’re not already using live chat on your business’s site, you’ve probably seen or interacted with it before. It’s typically a chat window that pops up on the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.

Live chat can be helpful or annoying, depending on how well you use it. A welcome message is typically expected—or at least tolerated—when users first visit a website, but any additional messages might be unwelcomed unless you reach out strategically.

Using AI-enhanced chatbots and live chat, you can help guide your site visitors through the purchase journey. Based on which pages they view and how long they spend on each page, shopping cart bots can infer when customers have stalled and need some assistance.

Maybe a customer has gone back and forth between sizes and needs assistance finding your sizing chart. Or maybe they’ve bounced back and forth between pages and can’t decide which membership tier is right for them. A well-timed message can help them make the decision and keep them from abandoning their shopping cart altogether.

Build trust with 24/7 availability.

Trust is a big factor in online shopping—more now than ever before. In fact, 88% of customers believe trust is more important in times of change, according to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report.

Since shoppers can buy from your company at any time, they also expect service at any time. Over 80% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately when they contact a company, according to Salesforce. Not getting their questions answered (no matter what time of day) can lead to shopping cart abandonment.

Pairing live chat and chatbots allows you to serve your customers while your contact center is closed (because agents need to sleep!). Using AI and natural language processing (NPL), great chatbots can fill in for agents on a variety of customer service problems. This means you won’t lose sales when your team is offline.

Trigger discounts and special offers.

Sometimes customers need a little push to complete their purchases. When shoppers stall on a page or show the intention of closing out the page altogether, use shopping cart chatbots to trigger incentives.

Consider offering incentives like free shipping, sharing bundles and special offers, or discounts. This method is especially effective for new customers and can go a long way to converting them into long-term fans of your brand.

Bonus tips: 3 things that make a big difference.

Live chat is a phenomenal tool to increase your website conversions, but there are other things you can do that will make a big difference to your numbers.

Here are three bonus tips to help decrease your cart abandonment rate:

A mobile-responsive website: If your website isn’t easy to navigate on mobile devices, you’re missing out on a large customer segment. The cart abandonment rate differs by device, according to research by Baymard Institute:

  • Desktop: 69.75%
  • Mobile: 85.65%
  • Tablets: 80.74%

Make your cart mobile-friendly and see an instant reduction in your cart abandonment rate.

Transparent shipping costs and return policies: Many customers reach their shopping carts and go through the purchase process only to be shocked by shipping costs or other additional fees.

Fight this before it happens by sharing this information in easy-to-reach places on your website. Even if you charge for shipping, inform customers early to prevent sticker shock when they see their final total.

A frictionless checkout experience: Don’t make your customers jump through hoops to buy from you. Ensure you have plenty of payment options, only ask for the information you absolutely need, and ensure a guest checkout option. Make it as easy as possible to buy from your business, and the results will follow.

Prevent cart abandonment before it happens.

Don’t underestimate the power of conversations. Prevent cart abandonment and boost sales when you proactively engage with customers early and often with live chat.

5 Tips for Retailers to Reduce Call Volume

It’s peak busy season in the retail industry, but we all know what comes after the holidays. Returns will be at their highest—and you’ll be looking for ways to reduce call volume.

So what do you do when you know the slow season is coming?

Many businesses batten down the hatches during times of economic uncertainty. It’s easy to look for simple cost-cutting measures and avoid major process changes. But instead of hunkering down, now’s the time to take a deeper look at your processes and see what you can do to streamline the customer experience.

The holiday season puts pressure on your call center. Calls are at an all-time high, you’re agents are overwhelmed, but you’re looking to cut costs. The best way to do that? Look for ways to reduce call volume.

Keep reading for five ways to lighten the load on your call center.

1. Mitigate hang-ups by embracing messaging.

Hangups happen. Whether a new, inexperienced agent accidentally disconnects, an angry customer is tired of waiting, or the line just goes dead, hang-ups add to your overall call volume.

Every time a customer has to call back, you have to create a new ticket. Customers have to start the conversation from scratch and repeat their problem—something that customers hate doing that will also take up valuable agent time—all before you can solve the problem.

Embracing messaging is a great way to reduce call inefficiencies at the source. Messaging conversations don’t have to have a defined beginning and end. With conversational platforms like Quiq, conversations flow more naturally between agents and customers. Customers can pop in with a question while browsing the website or follow up on their shipping confirmation post-purchase. Without the commitment of a phone call, conversations can happen more easily.

Plus, chat history never goes away. Your agents have access to previous conversations, so customers never have to repeat information. Agents can deliver exceptional and friendly service, deliver a more personalized experience, and improve customer retention.

2. Make it easy to connect from any channel.

When phone calls are your only option for real-time customer service, you’re going to have higher call volumes. Email is a helpful alternative, but it often comes with longer response times. When a customer wants a quick answer, they’re going to pick up the phone.

Messaging falls somewhere between phone calls and email. It’s not as immediate as a phone call, but they can get answers more quickly than waiting for an email response.

Offering multiple channels, from the immediacy of live chat (also known as web chat) to more forgiving options like business text messaging, gives customers options besides the phone.

And you’re not just reducing call volume artificially by moving conversations from phone calls to messages. You’ll actually save time—even with the same number of service tickets. Since messaging is asynchronous (meaning both parties don’t have to be present at the same time), agents can increase the number of customers they’re serving at once. Agents can help 6–8 customers at the same time while providing excellent customer service. Plus, Quiq customers that implement messaging see work time reductions of up to 35%.

3. Reduce call volume by adding call-to-text to your IVR.

Reducing your call volume does take some buy-in from your customers. If they’re still used to calling you for service-related questions, it can take time to get them to embrace using alternative communication methods.

A great option to encourage text messaging by adding call-to-text to your interactive voice response (IVR) system. When customers call in, they’ll be given the option to text your customer service team instead.

This is a great option to implement during peak volume periods. When wait times increase and your team is overloaded, you can lighten the burden by encouraging customers to use call-to-text. Besides reducing call volume, customers will be pleased they don’t have to wait on-hold to get their questions answered.

4. Answer customer questions 24/7 with an ai chatbot.

Your call center will always be limited by your hours of operation. When customers have to wait to call in during business hours, your agents can quickly become overwhelmed.

Instead, give customers a chance to get their questions answered 24/7 with an AI-enhanced chatbot. Gather the most frequently asked questions and program your chatbot with the answers. By offloading simple questions, your agents will have fewer calls to manage during the day and can spend their time working on more complex customer problems.

5. Get ahead of questions.

Some questions you can’t anticipate—but some you can. Take a look at your most frequently asked questions and see how you can implement the answers throughout your customer journey.

For example, one of the most frequently asked questions for most retailers is “Where’s my order?” Many retailers have gotten ahead of this and have been able to reduce call volume by emailing customers tracking links and order statuses. But you can go an extra step by sending an outbound text message at various points, like when the order is received and once it has shipped. Customers are much more likely to read a text message than an email, which means they’re less likely to call customer service and ask.

You can also place things like your return policy, shipping costs, and store hours (if applicable) more prominently on your website. While hiding the return policy may seem like a good idea, in theory, it’ll just lead to more calls to your customer service team.

Reduce call volume with messaging.

As retailers get through the holiday season and look to do more with less, reducing call volume should be a top priority. Adding messaging to your customer service offering can not only ease the burden on your call center, but it can also give your customers a better experience.

Keep your call volume down with messaging, and manage in all with Quiq’s multi-channel conversational platform.

Contact Us