To say it plainly, the best way to drive word-of-mouth referrals is to demonstrate to your customers that you think they matter. When they feel important to you — as individuals rather than numbers — they’ll be both impressed and loyal to you.

As more and more things become automated, it’s important to distinguish what tasks can be done by a computer program, and where it’s still important to have that human touch, even if it isn’t the easier choice. If you can do that, you’ll set yourself apart from other companies around you and get people talking about your brand in a positive context. And you can’t put a price on those real-life, person-to-person recommendations.

The first way you can show your customers they’re important to you is through your customer service.

  • Respond to their questions quickly, and answer any inquiries clearly and specifically. Tailor your responses to their questions; don’t use generic form letters or auto-replies.
  • Remain positive if they are having trouble with your product. Acknowledge their problem, but focus on moving forward and finding a solution. Remember that your end-goal is to make them happy and renew their faith in your product and your company.
  • Follow up. Once the problem is solved or their question is answered, check in with them the next day and make sure they haven’t re-encountered the same problem.
  • Ask for feedback on the customer service process — this shows them you care about your interactions and want to improve anything they might not have been happy with.

On that same note, ask for feedback on your product. If your customers see that you care how your product is working for them, they’ll realize they are important to you.

  • Don’t assume it’s intuitive that people will know how to use your product. By identifying where there are common problems through consistent customer feedback, you can focus your efforts on simultaneously improving your product and the user experience.

Show your customers they matter by recognizing when they’re helping you.

  • Thank followers individually for retweets. It seems small, but they’ve done you a favor, so they deserve acknowledgement. Remember that even if your interactions are digital, good manners will go a long way.
  • Acknowledge early followers. When people help you with your development, it’s important to thank them so they feel like you appreciate their efforts. Remember that they don’t have to help you, and they’re doing it for free. A blog post thanking beta testers or a Facebook post mentioning the feedback you’ve received from your users is a great way to do this.

If you can turn common pain-points around to reflect positively on your brand, you’ll not only create a loyal following for your company, but you can generate organic discussions in which your brand comes across positively and as a business that cares about its customers as individuals. Remember that the easiest way to drive word-of-mouth referrals is to master the art of the “pleasant surprise.” And the best way to do that is to show you care even where it might not be 100% necessary for your company to function improves the customer’s experience.