In The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth, customer loyalty pioneer and expert Fred Reichheld proposes there is a single question you should be asking your customers that will provide you with a clear and easily understandable measure of your company’s performance as perceived by the most important person to your business – your customer!

Without understanding what exactly your customer needs and wants and what value they find in your product or service, how can you ensure repeat business and true customer enchantment?

Being satisfied is not enough. Satisfied customers are sitting ducks – waiting for the newest, cheapest thing to come along. They have no loyalty to your company or brand because you are not exceeding their expectations. They continue to use your services or buy your product because they do not have another or a more appealing alternative currently, but they are not excited enough to be “evangelists” for you, thus creating referrals and new business.

That is why the feedback you receive from asking The Ultimate Question is so vital. You will be able to identify how your customer base is divided between Promoters (people who absolutely love your product), Detractors (those who do not like your product) and Passives (ones who are indifferent).  As you come to understand these customers and implement practices to build greater satisfaction and ultimately increase your overall customer loyalty, you will find the percentage of Promoters will grow – right along with your company and its profits. Promoters are in essence a whole new, motivated, and enthusiastic sales team that doesn’t cost you a dime!

So what exactly is ‘The Ultimate Question’?  Simply put:

“How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?”

In principle, it’s a simple concept. But it packs a lot of punch! Ask yourself – If I am completely thrilled with a service I receive or a product I purchase, what is the first thing I do? I tell my friends!  And not just one friend – I tell everyone I know, which in today’s booming social media environment could be hundreds or even thousands of contacts instantaneously.

Why is it important to have customers who are so enchanted with your product or service that they tell their friends, family, co-workers, and maybe even people they meet in the check-out line?  Because research shows that today’s consumer will take the recommendation of a peer (another customer or potential customer) – even someone they do not know personally – 78% of the time before they will trust the hype created by advertisements and promotions your own company generates. In fact, companies with a higher NPS Score (i.e. a greater percentage of Promoters) actually grow 2.5 times faster than their competitors!

Once you have made the decision to ask your customers The Ultimate Question, you must determine the best approach to asking it and then, further, learn how to process the feedback you receive in order to most effectively increase your number of Promoters and the resulting profitability of your organization. You must LISTEN to what your customers say and follow through with ACTION.

We recommend you check out the book, which is based on extensive research in conjunction with Satmetrix (a recognized provider in customer experience management) and Bain & Company (an established management consulting firm) and contains real stories of success through utilizing The Ultimate Question and Net Promoter Score to enrich the customer experience. Reichhold clearly correlates the conversion of customers into Promoters with generating ‘good’ profits and true and enduring growth for your organization.  Remember – customers won’t brag about you when you merely satisfy their needs – you have to truly exceed their expectations.

If you are interested in learning more about how Ellis, Partners in Management Solutions can play a part in this process and in helping you increase customer loyalty and overall profitability, contact us for more information about our exciting new product, the Customer Intelligence Application.

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