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The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth Hardcover – March 2, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press; 1 edition (March 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591397839
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591397830
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (87 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,095 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Almost everyone appreciates the importance of customer satisfaction in business, but this book takes that idea to two extremes. First, it claims that customer satisfaction is more important than any business criterion except profits. Second, it argues that customer satisfaction is best measured by one simple question, "Would you recommend this business to a friend?" Pressure for financial performance tempts executives to seek "bad profits," that is, profits obtained at the expense of frustrating or disappointing customers. Such profits inflate short-term financial results, Reichheld writes, but kill longer-term growth. Only relentless focus on customer satisfaction can generate "good profits." One unambiguous question, with answers delivered promptly, can force organizational change, he claims. Reichheld makes a strong rhetorical case for his ideas, but is weaker on supporting evidence. The negative examples he gives are either well-known failures or generic entities like "monopolies," "cell phone service providers" and "cable companies." When presenting statistics on poor performers, the names are omitted "for obvious reasons." On the other hand, the positive examples are named, but described in unrealistically perfect terms. Believable comparisons of companies with both virtues and flaws would have been more instructive. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Among management books, this one's a keeper. -- The Washington Post

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Customer Reviews

This is easy reading, full of solid examples.
H. Hager
I recently read a book called, The Ultimate Question, Driving Good Profits and True Growth by Fred Reichheld.
Jim Estill
This book left me with more questions than answers.
Clare W. Daniels

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Eric Bauswell on May 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The Ultimate Question is compelling to read. Alright, so I listened to it. Then I went out and bought five more copies for the senior people on my team. This question (and the supporting elements) have already begun to ripple out and have an impact upon our organization. Would you refer us to your friend or family member? It places accountability upon the person being asked at a completely different level. Talk about amping it up.

The second, and in many way more important element, is tracking this effort with the same level of dilligence and seriousness of your accounting or financials. Actually making this a metric you track with results that work their way toward forecasted revenue is huge. It justifies the effort of trying to track it in the first place.

And of course at the end of the day we get to delight our customers which is why most of us started our businesses in the first place. We're learning what we can do better and reacting to it more quickly...probably because we respect the NPS system more than we ever did our customer satisfaction surveys.

I can only imagine how our organization and our work product will be over the long term.

An excellent cornerstone element!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Brian Shannon on November 26, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is the best book I have ever seen in terms of providing the simplest way to measure the satisfaction level of a customer. Not only does the ultimate question provide that, it also is quick/easy for clients to complete. That is also important. There is lots of data to support the effectiveness of the ultimate question, which adds to its credibility. I have successfully used this methodology in our business and have received good feedback.
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122 of 158 people found the following review helpful By G. R. Merz on May 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Frederick Reichheld's latest effort to enlighten CEOs and other business leaders is at its best mildly entertaining, but at its worst it is misleading and could result is some very costly and wrong decisions by potential users.

There are several critical weaknesses of this work-I will only mention a few.

First, there are many contradictions, reversals and logical inconsistencies throughout the book. Examples abound and can be discovered by anyone who spends a modicum of time with the book. Among the biggest is the reinterpretation of the satisfaction measure used by Enterprise Rental Car as a measure of net promoters (p.63). This is very confusing because earlier in the book the reader is led to believe that one needs to measure "recommendation" not "satisfaction" because Mr. Reichheld alleges that satisfaction is unrelated to revenue or profit growth. So why does the satisfaction measure works for Enterprise? More astounding Mr. Reichheld continually uses the Enterprise case throughout the book as justification for using the NPS measure.

Second, the entire premise of the Net Promoter approach is unsupported by third party peer-reviewed research articles in psychology, marketing research, or social science journals. All of the support provided in the book is based upon Mr. Reichheld's claims of research conducted by the firms he works with (Bain and Satmetrix) none of which has been reported in the aforementioned scientific publishing outlets. In fairness, the Net Promoter idea was originally promoted in a Harvard Business Review article, but HBR is not a research journal and its articles are not peer reviewed. Publication in HBR is somewhat equivalent to publication in Business Week or Fortune, and certainly does not qualify as scientific review.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By William A. Hunt on November 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the first career/business development type book that truly kept me interested from cover-to-cover. Reading it will define your Jerry Maguire moment and you wonder how your business got the point it has without this being on the forefront of everyone's minds. How do companies truly "grow". Follow this book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By David Siegel on April 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The key to this book's central idea is that you can REPLACE a large handful of other questions with this single question, so people will actually give you feedback. With a longer set of questions, you only get answers from people who enjoy filling out questionnaires! With this single powerful metric, you can watch your company go toward or away from customers. I plan on aiming part of my business in this exciting direction.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rolf Dobelli HALL OF FAME on February 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This surprising book offers a powerful message based on common sense: Companies that treat their customers ethically and honestly will build a dedicated client base, and thus grow steadily and earn "good profits." The opposite lesson is that companies that take advantage of their customers through predatory pricing or shoddy products earn "bad profits" while building an army of disenchanted buyers who tell their friends to stay away. Fred Reichheld makes his point in black and white: Rip off your customers at your peril. He amply illustrates his message with powerful case studies, and includes details about using the "ultimate" question - "How likely is it that you would recommend this business to a friend or colleague?" - and the resulting "Net Promotor Score" to identify your best customers. We commend this book to service or product providers who want to achieve solid growth by nurturing their core consumers.
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