As marketers, we are constantly asking ourselves and others, “What do customers want?” The answer is simple, they want what we all want – for everything to be easy. This need must be fulfilled starting at first contact and continuing all the way through to post-purchase engagement, like referral marketing programs.

To prove the importance of providing an easy customer journey, McKinsey surveyed 27,000 people in 44 industries. The survey found that making the customer journey as easy and effortless as possible increased revenue growth by 10-15% and increased positive customer experience by 20%.

Amazon, all the way back in 1999, understood this concept. That was the year Amazon added the option to enable 1-click purchase. No need to enter personal information or go through the process of verifying the credit card, just click purchase on the product page and you’re done. Why did they do this? To make purchasing easy for the customer. The time it took to checkout was often the biggest barrier to a purchase on Amazon.

Of course not everyone used this function. I decided against it because I wasn’t fully confident in my ability to resist pushing that nice yellow button for spontaneous purchases.  But the fact is, functionality that enables companies to offer the option of making interactions easier is being applied in many different facets. For referral marketing programs, they are automating and tracking verbal referrals.

How the verbal referral option benefits advocates

1. Allows easy referral attribution

The process of easily and automatically attributing a referral lead to the advocate who referred and reconciling it in the CRM’s system of record has become a no-brainer when deciding on functionality needed in a referral program. But what about when you need to attribute a referral to an advocate after the referral has already become a lead?

One thing I’ve seen a lot is advocates getting upset because they referred a lead but the referral happened verbally instead of through the referral channel so it was never attributed to them. For instances, let’s say Claire the customer (of Magnificent Marketing Automation) is meeting with her old co-worker Patrick for lunch. Patrick tells Claire about how his businesses really needs marketing automation software. Claire tells Patrick about Magnificent Marketing Automation and how it has satisfied her company’s needs. Later that day Patrick goes on Magnificent Marketing Automation’s website and fills out a lead form. Since Claire didn’t refer Patrick through the designated channel, Magnificent Marketing Automation will most likely not give her the reward she deserves since they have no way of tracking it as a referral and attributing it to Claire.

This missing functionality causes advocates to lose faith in the referral program, thereby discouraging future referrals.

By making verbal referral functionality a part of referral program software, referrals are able to be attributed to the advocate easily at any point in the sales process. Even after Patrick has become a lead, Sandy the sales rep is able to link his referral to Claire’s through the advocate lookup function which allows Sandy to search for a contact record in the CRM and attach it to the referral lead. Claire can then keep updated on the status of her verbal referral in her personal homepage and receive automated email updates as the referral lead status changes. This way, Claire effortlessly gets credit for the referral and stays engaged with the referral program, making her more willing to refer in the future.

2. Decreases the effort advocates have to put into a referral

We are all busy. And this is especially true for B2B referral advocates who have their own responsibilities and workload. Often times this means that making a referral can be put on the back burner for a time. However, regular contact points with customers or partners such as sales and customer success check-ins, scheduled training, or contacting a customer after a product has had a success, is a natural point at which to collect a referral if you have the verbal referral functionality.

For instance, let’s say Claire is on a call with Sandy the sales rep for a regular check-in and tells Sandy that she knows someone who might be in the market for Magnificent Marketing Automation. Claire has not registered for the referral program yet, but while Sandy is on the call with Claire Sandy is able to input the referral lead and attribute it to Claire. This is done through the easy lookup function in the CRM that allows Sandy to type in Claire’s name to find the right contact record and assign her as the referring advocate. That way, the verbal referrals reduce the amount of effort Claire has to put forth. Of course, she will eventually have to register to become advocates, but that’s number three.

3. Incentivizes referral program enrollment

Enrollment into a referral program can slow down (while not stopping) a customer from immediately registering to be an advocate. So how does verbal referral functionality make that easier? By incentivizing the enrollment process.

Even though Claire isn’t registered for the referral program, she is automatically sent an invite after she is assigned as the referring advocate. That way, Claire has an even greater incentive to registering for the program since she already has one referral under her belt. But she still doesn’t have to register at this point. When Patrick buys, Claire will be notified of the referral success and that there is a reward waiting for her upon enrollment in the referral program. Now Claire will be excited about the reward waiting for her which will also lead to a higher likelihood of immediately referring another peer like Patrick from her personal homepage.

By offering verbal referral functionality, you give customers the option to simplify their referral process, and in turn, increase engagement with the referral program. Discover how a referral program with verbal referral functionality can increase your referral ROI by providing a low effort experience. Use this free ROI calculator now!