How to grow your business via word of mouth – getting your clients working for you

One great free way to extend the reach of your business is via word of mouth. But how does a business go about encouraging their current customers to share their experience and make a recommendation to a friend or colleague?

And why is it so important?  It’s a well-quoted statistic, most recently from Neilsen that around 90% of customers trust recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.

We’ve put together the top tips for businesses looking to increase their word of mouth recommendations:

  1. Make it easy for them. Your website, subscription emails, vouchers, follow up communications and delivery should all be shareable on social media and via other methods too. Help your customer to help you.
  2. Be sure to think of creative ways to start a conversation. Think of something that is valuable to your client, something they want to talk about. If you’re product or service delivery is not something that people can easily talk about then they won’t want to share it – simple.
  3. Ask for the referrals. Ensure that all your customer touchpoints feature a request for a referral or recommendation in some form. Jog their memory.
  4. Provide images and wording for them to use. Whilst it’s great when your customers say nice things about your business, they don’t always know what to say or what imagery to use. Providing images on your website or emails as well as shareable wording will help to make the process even easier for your advocates.
  5. Use testimonials. When your customers send in positive testimonials, use them! Your website, emails, marketing material and social media are all great examples of how to show your customers that you value their feedback.
  6. Incentivise word of mouth and referral behaviour. Depending on the industry you operate in, you may have the ability to incentivize referrals to increase their frequency. Be sure to check the legal requirements of this type of reward before embarking on a course of action.
  7. Make it easy for potential customers to contact you. And be sure to get back to them promptly. When a potential new customer has contacted you on a friend or colleague’s recommendation, you want to make a great first impression so make sure your lead generation and funnelling processes are up to scratch.

Those are just a few of the many tips available online for businesses looking for word of mouth recommendations. Remember, a customer will only recommend you if your service has been top notch and you give them something to talk about.

AFG Competition Index – March 2017

Major lenders slide

Australia’s major lenders have again taken a hit as the non-majors continue to appeal to those seeking to finance a home. The latest AFG (ASX:AFG) Competition Index shows the majors’ share of the market dropped again to 65.25% to continue the trend of the last six months.

The recent political spotlight on the major lenders may encourage them to assess their competitive position as they once again fall out of favour with consumers. The non-major lenders have increased their market share to a post-GFC high of almost 35% across the quarter.

“The non-majors have continued to take market share from the majors this quarter, particularly among those seeking to refinance. Their share of the refinancing market grew by 6.5% with the big winners being AMP and ING,” said Mr Hewitt.

The non-majors also gained ground with those looking to fix their interest rate. Non-majors recorded an 8% lift in market share for fixed rates with ME Bank and ING leading the way.

First home buyers were also drawn towards the non-majors with a 2% gain in non-major market share evident from this group.

“Recent changes made by the Victorian state government to exempt first home buyers from stamp duty if they are purchasing a property for less than $600,000 will make this segment of the market one to watch,” said Mr Hewitt.

This latest move comes on top of a doubling of the first home buyers grant for regional purchases in that state and news of a $50 million pilot program designed to help people co-purchase a dwelling with the Victorian government set to launch next year.

Download full report: AFG – Competition Index – March 2017

Chief Executive Officer Transition

Australian Finance Group (ASX: AFG) today announced that after more than 23 years with AFG, CEO and Managing Director Brett McKeon will step back from his full-time executive role. Mr McKeon will remain on the AFG board as an executive director with a focus on advocacy and support of AFG’s broker network and their customers

Mr McKeon was one of the co-founders of AFG in 1994 and has led the Company from its beginning through its national expansion and successful IPO in 2015.

AFG Chairman Tony Gill said that Mr McKeon has established himself as a leading player in the evolution of AFG into the strong business it is today. His impact has been significant and far-reaching.

“Brett will continue to be a leading spokesman for the industry and a strong advocate for the role that mortgage brokers play to promote choice and competition for mortgage customers in Australia.

Mr McKeon said it had been an honour to have led AFG over the past 23 years, from its establishment through to its position today as one of Australia’s largest mortgage broking groups.

“The decision has not been easy but I feel now is the appropriate time for me to step back from my full-time executive role at AFG.  I am immensely proud of the achievements of AFG, our people and our brokers. AFG’s guiding principles of fairness, shared prosperity and the provision of choice for Australian consumers has been central to our success.

“The role the mortgage broking channel plays has never been more crucial in ensuring true competition in the Australian lending landscape and I believe the business, as evidenced by the release of our half-year results, is well placed to grow even stronger. I have no intention to dispose of any shares, I remain committed to our team and the brokers who have served us so well over the years, and I know the management team have never been better placed to take the business forward.

The AFG Board has commenced a formal recruitment process assessing both internal and external candidates to determine the next CEO.

“We are in a fortunate position, where we have a strong internal candidate for the CEO position in AFG’s current Chief Operating Officer, (and former CFO) David Bailey who will act as interim CEO,” said Mr Gill.

“David has been with AFG for close to 13 years and is well known to AFG’s brokers, partners and shareholders. In his roles with AFG, David has had direct responsibility for its business development, strategy and finance operations as well as leading our AFG Home Loans business including our securitisation programme.

“Brett and the Board have every faith in David and the AFG executive team to successfully steer the company through this transition and continue to grow the business.”

Media Enquiries

David Bailey
CEO (Interim)
+61 8 9420 7888

Alison Clarke
AFG Head of Corporate Communications
+61 402 781 367