The selfish truth about word of mouth (why referrals don’t happen)
Of course you will be eagerly and often referring your friends and neighbors to your dentist, insurance broker, lawn mowing guy and that book you just read.
Actually, not so much.
But I thought you liked it?
Well, whether or not we liked it isn't what motivates us to take the risky step of referring something (or someone). Instead, the questions that need to be answered are:
- Do I want to be responsible if my friend has a bad experience? Will I get credit if it works, blame if it doesn't?
- Does sending more business in this direction help me, or does it ultimately make my service provider more busy, or overwhelmed, or encourage her to raise her prices?
- Will the provider be upset with me if the person I recommend acts like a jerk, or doesn't take his meds, or fails to pay his bills?
- How does it make me look? Do people like me recommend something like this? When I look in the mirror after recommending this, do I stand taller?
- Is this difficult to explain, complex to understand, filled with pitfalls?
- Does it look like I'm getting some sort of kickback or special treatment in exchange? Is that a good thing?
Being really good is merely the first step. In order to earn word of mouth, you need to make it safe, fun and worthwhile to overcome the social hurdles to spread the word.