Tuesday, May 22, 2007

 

Is The Ultimate Question real?

Is is possible that a single question can consolidate and provide complete understanding of a customer's satisfaction and loyalty with your brand? Can that single question be used in place of all other satisfaction surveys to clearly lead your company, brand and products to greater clarity, customer happiness and lifetime value?

More and more companies believe the answer to these questions is an emphatic "yes", thanks to Fred Reichheld and his book, The Ultimate Question. Fred's premise is simple - a clearly-phrased question measuring your customers' intent to recommend your product to friends and colleagues can be used to not only accurately measure customer satisfaction, but also clearly identify business practices and strategies that should be created, modified or eliminated.

Until now, the evidence that Fred's Ultimate Question works has piled up with little opposition. This summer, a research team at Ipsos Loyalty is set to release a new study that provides the opposite viewpoint - that a single question, and Fred's question specifically, is too often inaccurate in its measurements, predictions and implications.

Both Fred's book and the Ipsos research are underwritten by research firms with business models and clients on the line.

But one could argue that accurate customer satisfaction methodology and business impact doesn't have as much to do with the questions you ask, vs. what you do once you have the answers.

Put another way, it could be that shorter customer surveys are helping more and more companies put the right focus on customer answers, helping them get far more organizationally focused on things they believe will impact and delight their customers.

So, is this about asking the right questions, or about taking the right actions? Is this about survey methodology or business discipline and focus?

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