One Question Can Determine Your Businesss Future. Do You Know the Answer?
CEOs regularly announce ambitious growth targets, then fail to achieve them. The reason? Their growing addiction to bad profits. These corporate steroids boost short-term earnings but alienate customers. They undermine growth by creating legions of detractorscustomers who complain loudly about the company and switch to competitors at the earliest opportunity.
Now loyalty expert Fred Reichheld shows how to reverse the equation, turning customers into promoters who generate good profits and true, sustainable growth. The key: one simple questionWould you recommend us to a friend?that allows companies to track promoters and detractors and produces a clear measure of an organizations performance through its customers eyes. In industry after industry, this “Net Promoter Score” is the single most reliable indicator of a companys ability to grow.
Based on extensive research, The Ultimate Question shows how companies can rigorously measure Net Promoter statistics, help managers improve them, and create communities of passionate advocates that stimulate innovation. Vivid stories from leading-edge organizations illustrate the ideas in practice.
Practical and compelling, this is the one bookand the one toolno growth-minded leader can afford to miss.
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.
Third, Mr. Reichheld confuses cause and effect with correlation. Recommendation is an effect not a cause. It occurs because something else (like a satisfactory experience) causes it to occur. Yet throughout the book, Mr. Reichheld continuously claims that recommendation’s correlation with sales growth proves that it is a driver of growth. Correlation is simply a measure of association that says nothing about cause and effect. Consider the correlation between the number of churches in a community and beer sales. They are probably correlated but does one cause the other? More likely there is a third factor that is causing both to move together-like population growth. The same is true of the Net Promoter measure-it is likely being caused by something else-like satisfaction. Its correlation with sales growth is spurious and is not causal. If one examines the evidence provided by Mr. Reichheld in Appendix A this confusion of cause and effect is even more apparent-in every case shown, the time periods for the sales data predates the time periods when the Net Promoter Scores were collected. So what is causing what?