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When Referrals Trump Google

I could have saved myself months of frustration and aggravation if I had asked my business network for a referral… instead I asked Google.

Google sent me to a website that looked great. Polished. Professional. Sounded like a good match.

So I called and the woman and she sounded great.

She came out to meet my kids.

Very impressive. I was super excited and patted myself on the back for a research job well done.

Then it all fell apart. It felt very slow and painful at the time, though I would realize later that I had actually been lucky.

She told me that it was going to take a few weeks to match us with a teacher.

After a month I called back. She was still working on it.

After two months I told her to level with me. That if she didn’t have anyone I would look elsewhere.

She emailed the next day to say that she had a teacher.

Whew. Finally.

He cancelled the first lesson.

Then, before even meeting us, decided it wasn’t a good match.

So much for that.

I start asking around.

My kids’ friends were taking piano lessons from a local teacher who came highly recommended.

Her website wasn’t much to look at, but it did have her philosophy and some videos of kids playing beautifully at recitals.

So I call her, we talk for a few minutes, she has a lesson time available, and I sign my kids up.

My kids love it. She’s an incredible teacher. It’s fun and their music sounds great.

And 18 months later, another family friend gets in touch with me. Turns out he had made the same mistake I had, except that he had gotten assigned a teacher from the first woman I talked to. The teacher was so bad and the organization was so frustrating that he was looking for a new teacher. I was more than happy to make the referral, and his kids are now happily taking lessons with the same teacher as my kids. They practice together, and we all get to hang out at the recitals.

“Ask Google” my kids will say in response to almost any question. But, and this may be difficult for some people to hear – Google doesn’t always have the best answer. And… you don’t need a super slick website to attract great customers. You need to know people. You need to trust people. And they need to trust you.

An introduction from a trusted member of my referral network trumps Google’s recommendation any day.

Who do you ask first when you need a referral?

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