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The Ultimate Question 2.0 (Revised and Expanded Edition): How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World Hardcover – September 20, 2011
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A variety of companies have started using this: Charles Schwab, Apple, Progressive, Virgin Media, and more. Check out the book and see how to use it for your company.” 800 CEO READ
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The focus on only one key question with follow-up is something every employee can conceptually understand and relate to each customer with whom s/he interacts. So the straightfowardness and elegance of the approach solves a major problem many organizations have with implementing such programs. As another reviewer commented, it seems a little bit of overkill to have a whole book to explain that.
The bigger issue in my opinion is whether the organization's culture will empower employees to do something to improve a customer experience on the spot to rescue a 0-6 detractor to make that interaction successful. And bigger picture, are the employees able to recognize how current practices could be improved so as to make improvements in best practices and customer experiences that would elevate more customer responses to '9's' and 10's' across the whole organization? To me, this is the bigger challenge and one the book doesn't get into as much. Perhaps that's to be expected because each culture is different and there may not be one best way for that to be done.
My friend's company was a great candidate for implementing Net Promoter because much had been done to put their employees into positions where they were empowered to delight the customer, to suggest best practice improvements to their supervisors, and to lobby for their acceptance. Once they've been enabled to do those things, then Net Promoter would be easily implemented.
I took a number of key lessons from the book:
First, and foremost, the real power of NPS is as part of long-term strategy that places the customer at the heart of business. Reichheld contrasts "good profits" - earned from delighted repeat customers who promote the product to others - with "bad profits" where customers are "misled, mistreated, ignored or coerced". If, other factors cause companies to pursue "bad profits", NPS results will inevitably be poor and cosmetic improvement programs will achieve little.
A good NPS score (absolutely or relative to competitors) is NOT an end in itself. The end is sustained competitive advantage and profitable growth.
The NPS question and zero-to-ten scale is a straightforward, highly effective approach. It is easy to calculate, understand and compare with others. It does not need to be tailored.
Contextual factors are critical to success. These include:
Executive commitment and sponsorship. All of the successful case studies featured a direct personal involvement from the CEO;
Pervasiveness of NPS-focus. NPS results must gain equal currency and importance within an organization as other management information including financial targets and performance;
A closed loop feedback system. The process must embrace timely follow up to the survey respondents from those who have the ability to act upon their comments.
Employee Net Promoter Scores (eNPS) have a strong correlation with customer results as engaged employees play a vital role in building customer loyalty.
The lessons learned from the many companies cited in the book (e.g. Charles Schwab, Intuit, Phillips, Allianz, Virgin Media) parallel my own experience in implementing the methodology. Despite (or perhaps because of) its simplicity we encountered serious resistance to its introduction. Those responsible for existing customer satisfaction surveys doubted the validity of the NPS methodology, wanted to customize the question, and include it in a much large survey. In the book Reichheld quotes a dictum from Upton Sinclair "it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon not doing so". My version would "it is difficult to get a man to explain things simply, when his profession requires them to be complicated". We also encountered sample bias, with the exclusion of probable detractors. Ironically, one major customer opted out of the survey completely as our use of their feedback would provide an unfair advantage over other suppliers. A preserve rationale if ever there was. As with the examples of the book, patient persistence was necessary to implement a global approach.
The one area where the methodology remains incomplete is in the "cost benefit analysis" of implementation of the methodology and improvement of the score. Whilst intuitively, a higher NPS would suggest better financial results "remarkably few firms can confidently quantify the value if improving loyalty (more promoters, fewer detractors) for specific customers or segments". The book provides examples of microeconomic analyses for the impact of NPS on business-to-consumer (b2c) companies. However, the business-to-business (b2b) market is more complex. Here the average NPS for all consumers of the service should, in theory, suggest the overall "loyalty" of the customer organization. However, in practice, many other factors - such as governance, contract duration, and switching costs - come into the equation.
So, back to the ultimate question" about "The Ultimate Question 2.0". My answer is 10. I do recommend it and furthermore recommend that you go on to implement the methodology. As Reichheld evangelizes, "The knowledge you can gain from implementing the Net Promoter System is in fact priceless. It will help you run a better business, do more satisfying work, and build relationships that yield a more fulfilling life". Now who would not recommend that?