As a small business owner, the number one way to get more referrals is to ask your happy customer to review you. Leveraging automation can help ensure you’re timing your referral request at proper key moments in the buyer’s journey. For example, 30 days in if they are showing signs of being satisfied, or at the time of purchase.

Allowing automation to assist in providing customers the most enjoyable buying experience will not only perpetuate their relationship with you, but motivate them to bring you more business through referrals. 

It’s also important to remember that there should be a balance between where automation ends and human interaction begins, especially now with the challenges presented by COVID-19. Having to step in from time to time to update your processes and inform customers on safety regulations does not deter from the power of automated efficiency.

Let’s explore some of the ways in which automation can lead to customer referrals to grow your business:

Improving the customer experience

The first place to start is to implement automation systems that will help your business be efficient enough that it enhances the customer experience. Automation can help you streamline your business’ processes including messaging, marketing, order processing, shipping, invoicing and customer support so your consistent customer service builds trust among your clients and provides a consistent brand experience that they’ll want to tell their friends about.


A great way to boost productivity for your business is to integrate apps into your centralized Client Relationship Management (CRM) system. You can implement your email, note taking, invoicing, calendar, reporting, cloud storage and team communication tools all in one location that will streamline your workflow, helping you devote more time to your clientele.


Once your brand determines a general target audience for your products or services, you can segment them into established groups. The overall benefit of market segmentation is that you now have groups of buyers that have been defined by their similar needs and desires. Automating your segmentation within your CRM allows your company to improve its return on investment through a buyer-based marketing strategy, ensuring that your business is providing exactly what your customers came for.

Segmentation also eliminates ambiguity as to how you can best serve your customers. By narrowing down their needs, you can become their problem solver, helping them associate you with a brand that satisfies and advocates for them, increasing their motivation to refer your business to someone else they know who may be in need of the same services. Segmenting your customer list allows you to deliver the most relevant content, product recommendations and services in real-time.


From a business perspective, as opposed to a customer perspective, personalization is how you distinguish your brand, drive sales and increase conversion rates.

Automating workflows in your email marketing platform in your CRM system to engage with your target audience and offering the best service based on each customer’s real-time interaction with your brand will increase the chances of a positive customer experience.

Leverage personalization to send out automated reminders to customers who have abandoned their shopping cart or deliver highly valuable content that will further educate your customers about your brand as well as providing product recommendations to build loyalty and increase purchases.

Personalization is also a great way to solidify the bond between your business and your visitors and ensure that you are meeting their demands. People who shop on your website find it valuable when you offer valid product recommendations, helping them find the products they need as soon as they click over to your homepage.

This is the most effective when retargeting customers, as you can retrieve their previous buying patterns. However, in the case of a lead, it’s all the more reason for your business to be familiar with its target audience by creating customer personas to become more familiar with buying behaviors in their industries.


Chatbots are a form of artificial intelligence that interact with customers upon entering your website or social media profile.

Chatbots greet visitors with automated questions that can provide quick responses in real-time and are a great resource in gathering lead data including email addresses, names, phone numbers, product preferences, feedback, etc. All conversations with your chatbot can be saved and used later for future lead scoring in your CRM.

Set up messenger chatbots on your business’ Facebook page to test out its effectiveness. They’re free, require very little coding and help customers feel more at ease since they’re customized to their preferences.

You also want to ensure your chatbots don’t spam your visitors with notifications when entering your site, impeding their experience. Instead, boost your lead gathering potential while also engaging in an informative manner.

Sometimes it’s not always conducive to call a business by phone, so providing a convenient way for customers to get a hold of you for assistance will help improve their buyer’s experience and increase dependency on your brand.

Automating the use of chatbots can simplify the way your business delivers customer service by providing immediate answers to their questions and supporting them with step-by-step instructions if they’re stuck on the purchasing page or can’t figure out how to use a certain product.

Chatbots can also direct customers to the appropriate customer service agent should they need further assistance. Covering all your bases to ensure the customer gets their needs met is a surefire way to increase their satisfaction to the point where they write a positive review or hopefully take it a step further and provide a few referrals.

Electronic forms

Another way to improve the customer experience is to automate your form submissions and processing in an effort to mitigate errors and guarantee timely responses.

Accelerate ordering processes with sales order forms and invoices, ensuring a more efficient and accurate way to streamline the purchasing user flow by automatically populating user details.

Electronic forms also improve the way different departments collaborate with each other in order to accommodate special requests from customers so they can be directed to the right team in a timely fashion.

Speaking of electronic forms, if customers decide they want to refer a friend to your business, make it easy for them.

Offer them a referral code or create a call-to-action (CTA) on a purchase confirmation page or a thank you email, directing them to the referral form. Offer an incentive for doing so, such as a gift card or a one-month free subscription.

Real-time updates

Leverage real-time updates in your CRM to automate access to product availability and inventory to ensure everything is in stock and expedited on time so customers get the products they want when promised.

You can also program data-driven automations that regulate inventory and reordering processes so that your company never goes out of stock on anything. If any products do start running low, set up notifications that trigger the system to automatically start reordering.

Real-time updates can also be applied toward consumer metrics to detect certain trends your business can anticipate, staying on top of market demand. This will give you a leg up in your industry, creating such a reputation for reliability that your business will create a monopoly in your market, motivating customers to only think of your brand when it comes to your products and services. The goal is to always stay top of mind.

Real-time reporting

When it comes to metrics, you can automate your CRM to gather insights based on customer feedback. Leverage your data analytics to generate reports you can share with the respective departments that will be responsible for making data-driven decisions that will improve the customer experience.

This is the ultimate way to detect true customer satisfaction. Take the time to listen to your clientele and do everything you can to meet their needs, if you’re not already doing so. Customers know the difference between a company that’s doing the bare minimum and one that goes out of its way for its customers. Always strive to be the latter and you will find your brand experiencing organic growth through customer referrals, as your current buyers will find their journeys so incredible that they can’t wait to spread the news.

As the CEO of Keap, Clate Mask leads the company’s vision, strategy and growth. His entrepreneurial spirit was sparked early in his career and evolved into the software industry while he was at Clate then co-founded Keap (formally Infusionsoft) to help small businesses succeed with smart marketing automation tools created just for them.

Customer experience stock photo by Semisatch/Shutterstock