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Career Development


n this economy, where no customer can be taken for granted, market share

growth through retention of a company’s most profitable customers should be the first priority. With $1 trillion dollars in buying power, losing a sale among women of color –Latina, Black and Asian women- through poor customer service can be very costly. Why? Women of color are a powerful referral source. To the extent that you are able to secure the trust and respect of a woman of color and provide outstand- ing service throughout her experience with your brand, you will create a built-in referral source and positively impact your company’s future sales. Women will refer up to 26 individuals to a company, product, or service if she is happy with her experience. Men, on the other hand, will refer an average of 11 people, even with the highest degree of satisfaction with a comparable product or service. Therefore on a 2:1 basis, women have incredible referral energy and this energy results in increased future sales. At the other extreme, women and

women of color have very strong veto power. If she is not feeling comfortable with a product or service approach, she will cancel out that company as an option. She has 95% veto power in decisions where both a spouse and partner are in- volved. Therefore, as an entrepreneur who values customer growth, you will want to make sure you provide outstanding cus- tomer service to women of color so that they will become your ally. Just how do you create a strong referral business among multicultural women?

Start with Current Customers It’s important that you start by letting

your current women of color customers know that you are actively looking for re- ferrals. Let your customers know that you want to grow your business as you would grow your family—only with the personal recommendation of friends that you trust.


Make Sure Your Customer Service Staff and Office Present a Welcoming Environment

Creating a referral climate among your customer service staff and in your office environment is an effective way to subtly remind customers that you are open to their suggestions and ideas for new cli- ents. Some strategies that have been effec- tive with women of color include the use of voice mail tags with language such as: “You’ve reached the voice mail of ___. I am not in the office today, but will return your call within the next 24 hours. If you are calling because someone referred you to me, please leave their contact informa- tion so that I might thank them.” In e-mail communications you may

want to craft a tag line such as, “Thank you for your business and continued refer- rals.” And, in general, the ambiance your customer service staff presents can be re- inforced with a framed message such as,

Take the Mystery Out of the Referral Process

You will want to build trust from the

very beginning with Latina, Black, and Asian women of color by reinforcing how important it is to you on a personal level that they are comfortable in providing as- sistance to you. You will want to take the mystery out of the referral process by clearly explaining how the process works, ensure that they will not be embarrassed or compromised in any way, and that you will keep them apprised of the develop- ment of the referral, should they desire. Make sure you answer questions and, knowing that some women of color may be reluctant to ask pointed questions, you may want to suggest some areas of poten- tial inquiry and respond, as appropriate. Be very sensitive to body language, words stated and words not stated as you move through the process. Reassure them that you will not work in isolation, but that you

by Miriam Muléy

Growing Your Business Among the $1 Trillion Dollar Latina, Black, and Asian Women of Color Market

will make sure the process meets with their full approval. A sample conversation could begin with, “We’ve been working together for a long time now and I’ve al- ways valued the honesty and candor of our relationship. It’s important to me that you are 100% comfortable with the idea of how a referral works, so with your per- mission, I’d like to take the time now to walk you through the steps I would nor- mally use when meeting a new prospec- tive referred client. Feel free to let me know if you think your friend, ___, will feel comfortable with this approach or if I should make any modifications in how I reach out to her.”

Leverage the Referral Moment

Timing is everything in a referral. You

want to make sure that you ask for a refer- ral after you have had a moment of suc- cess with a customer. Make sure that you explain the referral process. For example, you may want to train your staff to say something like, “I’m glad you see the value in the ser- vice our company has provided to you. We agree that this is very important and that this service can help a lot of people. Be- cause of this, I was hoping we could iden- tify some people you care about who should know about this important service that our company provides.”

The Final Thank You You should always thank your customers

for any referrals that are given...this is an ob- vious statement. However, from a multicul- tural point of view, you want to make sure the acknowledgement is personal and rele- vant. Personalized and hand written notes are always welcomed; they show an additional level of care and “high touch”. A letter from you, as the CEO of the company, will go a long way to show how much you appreciate your loyal customers. Source:

The Black E.O.E. Journal

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