Ask Your Customers This One Question


A Simple Way To Measure Customer Satisfaction

Joe Delmont

If you’re like most other business owners, you have fewer customers today than you did two or three years ago. It’s not your fault, that’s just the way it is. The question now is, How well are you serving those fewer customers, when each one is more important than ever?

That brings us to today’s topic: Customer satisfaction surveys. These surveys are great and can provide plenty of valuable information for owners and managers, whether you’re running a bricks and mortar operation, an e-commerce business or an operation that does business in both spots. There are a number of experienced and competent research firms to chose from if you want to develop a full-blown customer satisfaction program. But what if you just want a snapshot; what if that’s all you can afford today?

Here’s my suggestion: Pick up a copy of the “Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth, a book written by Fred Reichheld and published by Harvard Business School Press. Then, consider asking your customers, The Ultimate Question. The approach, developed by Reichheld, is a relatively quick, easy and inexpensive way to find out what your customers are saying about your company, your products and your service. The approach is not perfect, but it could give you a useful snapshot of the way customers think—and talk— about your operation.

Here’s the Question: Would you recommend us to a friend, rated on a scale of 0 to 10?

You can use the results to calculate your Net Promoter Score (NPS). The responses will fall into one of three groups: Promoters are defined as those who give a rating of 9 or 10, Passives give a 7 or 8, and Detractors give a six or less. You can calculate your NPS by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters. If you get 75 percent, you’re doing very well, but this is somewhat subjective.

A real plus for developing your NPS is its simplicity and ease of implementation. You can do it by phone or email, so it works well for both e-commerce and bricks and mortar operations. I know that I wouldn’t mind completing a one-question survey that is as easy to take as this one is.

Say, for example, that you decide to create an NPS program for the e-commerce segment of your dealership. How would you begin? Why not look at two areas: the products purchased and the purchase process itself?

You could email your customer the day after the sale and ask her to rate the purchase process. Would she recommend your e-commerce store to a friend? You might also want to sneak in a second question, asking, Why? or Why not? That takes care of operations.

Then wait a bit until she’s had a chance to use the product and go back and ask her if she would recommend the product to a friend. Now you have two NPS scores, one for the operation and one for the product itself. While the operations NPS probably only is of interest to you and your team, the product NPS might be of interest to your distributor and vendor as well.

Once you’ve developed your NPS scores, what do you do with them? How do you compare your performance with that of your competition? Good question; you probably don’t because they probably don’t have any scores, although you might try doing it within your dealer 20 Group. At any rate, I think you would agree that if less than half of your participants say they would not recommend you or your product, you’ve got some work to do.

Why not do what the Big Boys do? Apple, for example, calls each detractor within 24 hours to solve the problem. It should be even easier to deal with your promoters; these are gold for you. These are the customers who you want to reach out to at every possible opportunity and give them every reason and as much help as possible in promoting your company. At the very least, promote these good responses to your employees as a morale booster during difficult times.

At the same time, if you’ve used the follow-up question, this would seem to be an excellent opportunity to train your staff and to tweak your operation to improve your customer service.

While NPS has its detractors— largely because it’s not very detailed— it’s used by many major corporations, ranging from Apple and GE to at least one leading powersports OEM.

So, why not jump over to Amazon and order a copy of Reichheld’s book. You can get it at Amazon for less than $17. Then start asking your customers what they would say to their friends about you. You might be surprised at the results, and the comments might form the basis for a more detailed customer satisfaction survey when business picks up. JD

Contact me with news tips and story ideas at or 952/893-6876.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: