You are a superhero.  You don the tights with the best of ’em. Being a superhero comes with a lot of responsibilities. When someone asks you for a referral, you should be as protective of that referral as Batman is of Gotham.  Because in essence, if all goes well you are swooping in and saving the day. But sometimes things don’t go well.  Sometimes a customer referral goes horribly, horribly wrong.  What do you do?

I have been cultivating my reputation for more years than I care to remember.  But to put it in perspective, 3D Studios will turn 20 this year.  During that time, I have given out an untold number of referrals.  When you develop a relationship built on trust, your clients value your opinion above all else.  But it is a sacred bond that is easily shattered so it must be treated with care.

So what do you do when a customer referral goes awry?

In the world of marketing, things change so rapidly that you really have to be hyper-focused to stay on top of all of the trends and technological advances. As a result, I’m always looking to bring on new talent.  I recently had a colleague of mine refer a young man who specialized in collegiate outreach.  Amy sang his praises and ensured me that he would be exactly what I needed for a particular project we were working on at 3D.  After about 15 seconds on the phone, it became obvious that not only would this person not be a good fit for 3D but he would likely not be a good fit for anyone.  He was combative and argumentative and didn’t listen to a word I said.  To say I was annoyed would be a gross understatement but at the end of the day, it was he that missed out on an extraordinary opportunity.  What’s important, though, is how my colleague handled it.

Immediately after we hung up, she called me back to apologize for subjecting me to his lack of professionalism. Understanding that the encounter reflected on her as much as the person she referred, Amy made certain that I understood that this was not the norm and she would rectify the situation immediately by finding a suitable replacement.

Two of the most powerful phrases in the English language are “I’m Sorry & I Don’t Know”  and they are not used nearly enough in the business world. But her apology went a long way to making sure I understood that she valued her relationship with me and that she took seriously her commitment to my goals and objectives.

In this particular case, Amy happened to be on the call so she was aware of the situation as it was unfolding.  But what do you do if you’re not intimately involved?

There are a few steps I always take whenever I give a referral.

  • After connecting and introducing the parties via email (my standard practice), I always follow up to be certain that my referral responded in a timely manner.
  • When I give the referral, I ask (of both parties) to please let me know immediately if any problems arise.
  • I always follow up later to be certain that everyone was happy and satisfied with the results.

Seems like a lot of work doesn’t it?  It is.  But that’s how important it is. Donning that cape is never to be taken lightly. When someone comes to you for help how do you respond?

Running a business is never easy.  There are many moving parts.

We Can Help

3D Studios helps businesses grow their influence and their brands. As a boutique brand management agency, we begin with a thorough analysis of your needs and partner with you to develop and execute a marketing plan that will help you take your business to the next level. To learn more about how 3D Studios can help you, visit us at or call 914-304-4229.