The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld
The Ultimate Question: Yorkshire Powerhouse Score 7/10
In a world where profit and quarterly performance dominates, The Ultimate Question provides a method by which companies can genuinely measure what their customers think of them.
Who will gain the most from reading this book?
Business leaders trying to achieve success through brilliant service, and looking to find a measure that will drive service excellence.
The Ultimate Question is simply one to a customer which says, “Would you recommend this product or service”.
The mantra of the book is a simple concept that the most profitable way of growing a business is by the referral of delighted customers, it then goes on to assert that only customers who give a score of 9 or 10 will genuinely refer with enthusiasm. It describes those who score 7 or 8 as passives and everything 6 or below as detractors.
The Ultimate Question encourages the use of a scoring mechanism that in reality gives great weight to detractors, ignores neutrals and then counts in the promoters or enthusiasts.
The scoring method is entitled Net Promoter Score (NPS) and Fred Reichheld has obviously made a very successful career out of refining the system and supporting companies to introduce the scheme. Readers will immediately recognise experiences they themselves have had in filling in surveys and scoring their own experiences.
The title The Ultimate Question is a useful way of continuously highlighting the fact that amongst the many questions and supplementary questions a survey delivers, there is only one that truly matters, “would your customers enthusiastically refer your services on.”
Could a Yorkshire perspective improve this book?
There is a bit too much name dropping going on; the success of the companies referenced will be to do with many aspects, not just net promoter score.
The language in the book is a bit technical and the examples used struggle to translate to the small business or start up environment, but the overriding principles of being very, very harsh in identifying those who will actually refer a business on versus those that won’t, and then driving every aspect of a business and every person in it towards improvement is a useful culture setter.
It’s a good bet that a high percentage of the people who have bought this book are leaders or managers who have bought it for their staff in an attempt to explain a different way forward, the methodology described could be very powerful for a business.
As always any new scheme comes with caveats, don’t start on this journey unless you really are committed and the top people in a business are also committed, and that advice will sound familiar to all with failed initiatives behind them.
Perhaps the most interesting snippets through the book are those which describe how the behaviour of people in a business was altered by the introduction of a consistent and rigorous measure that had buy-in from all levels of the business.
When NPS meets the real world, just watch out for the difficulty of getting feedback, for the ease of score manipulation and how staff can be encouraged to ask for a score that does not reflect the customer’s real intent to enthusiastically promote.
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