Unremarkable Means You Are Un-Referable
Sales & Marketing for Professional Services & Strategic Issues

Unremarkable Means You Are Un-Referable

February 24, 2023

by Tony Vidler  CFP logo   CLU logo  ChFC logo

Virtually all professional service firms would love to work on referral business alone, but somehow struggle to even get to the point where they have regular referrals from clients that are unsolicited.  They are simply not referable.

The missing ingredient for many service firms is remarkable service, or remarkable value.

Customers are not generally inclined to share the purchasing or advice experiences with their friends and peers when the experience is simply “ordinary”.  That is, when the professional service has been only as good as the customers’ expectations then the professional, or their service, is not exceptional or noteworthy.  It is in fact unremarkable.

The alternative to exceptional service which is remarkable is delivering remarkable value – which  can be entirely different to delivering “service”.  Assisting a client to get a lending deal done which was thought undo-able….getting them insurance cover on terms which nobody thought possible…helping them create an estate or net worth faster and higher than they believed could be done….these are high value outcomes.  If the value delivered is simply at a level which was expected to begin with then that is satisfactory, but it is not remarkable.

Unremarkable means you are un-referable.

Sure you can get referrals from happy clients if you jog their memory, or ask them nicely…they will often be happy to help if they know someone who needs you.  And therein lies the problem of getting continuous referrals from clients who are just “happy” or “satisfied”:

You are dependent on the client being both happy AND aware of their friends circumstances.

Unless you have done something remarkable that makes a customer want to share their fabulous experience spontaneously they will try and qualify referrals for you, rather than simply share a wonderful experience with anyone who will listen.

Happy and satisfied clients WILL be loyal, and WILL be committed, and WILL refer you when they think there is someone you can help….BUT they will be reactive rather than proactive, which means referrals will continue to be an intermittent source of new clients.

For them the service or expertise you provided is adequate.  It was expected, and expectations were met.  It was a fair exchange of value…and you achieved the goal of having happy clients – but that is all.   You have not created advocates.

Unremarkable service really means “forgettable service provider”, and I mean forgettable in the nicest sense.  Forgettable only in that it was not memorable.  Still fine…it is ok….it is acceptable…..all “good outcomes”….but not sufficient to jog a client into doing something more in return.

To build a referral-based business where the new client leads are coming in spontaneously one must have a remarkable service that is truly memorable because it exceeded expectations.  Not remarkable technical expertise, or a remarkable personality but remarkable value or service.

The problem with focussing upon trying to deliver remarkable value is that it is not always possible and nor is it always within your control.  Sometimes a “satisfactory” outcome in the clients eyes is a remarkable achievement really, but they just don’t see it that way.  When the planner’s superb advcie and strategy has resulted in the client ONLY getting a -3% return when all asset classes are anking, or the risk specialist manages to get insurance cover placed with only a 100% loading instead of a 250% one, the client doesn’t necessarily see this as exceptional value.  It is of course. We know that. But they can never quite understand or accept that it is.

So remarkable service is something which is within our control.  Remarkable service creates advocates. Advocates will do a load of marketing for you.  So it is worth investing in remarkable service as that is the key to continuous spontaneous referrals.

You might also be interested in this related article:
10 Steps To Programming Referrals From Clients
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