Last weekend Patti and I went Christmas shopping at Kohl’s. While at the check-out the young man who was cashing us out was distracted by the young women associates around him and missed a $20 item, so I reminded him. He thanked me for my honesty (nice move on his part) and then energetically handed me the slip, reminded me of the on-line survey, and wished us a happy holiday. All in all, a typical America shopping experience, right?
Of course, being the curious businessperson I am, I had to check-out the on-line survey. Ten minutes and 26 questions later, I was done. One thing was clear to me; this business had not adopted the one-question, “net-promoter system” as a means of understanding their customers’ satisfaction with their shopping experience.
The Question. Last week I was working with a group of human resource professionals who were working on their association’s annual strategic plan. They were discussing how to get regular feedback from their association’s members. I said, “You know, you could ask just one question?”
They looked perplexed - none of them had heard of the concept before. ”Really, just one question, what is it?”
“On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend the Association to a close friend or family member?”
The Net Promoter Score. This one question comes from the book The Ultimate Question 2.0 by Fred Reichheld and Rob Markey. They have done global research on customer satisfaction and have created a widely used and successful program call the Net-Promoter System. In a nutshell, here’s how it works.
Companies and organizations like Verizon, Enterprise, and Apple retail stores ask customers to score this one question. They then add up all the 9s and 10s (“promoters”) and subtract from that amount all the 0 to 6 scores (“detractors”) and determine a “net promoter score.” (A 7 or 8 score doesn’t count because the score neither promotes nor detracts from the business.) They have found that if a customer scores a store a 9 or 10 they are likely to “tell” a close friend or family member about their positive experience. This, we all know, is the best form of promotion or advertising. And, if they scored the store a 0 to 6, they are likely to “tell” a close friend or family member (or anyone else who will listen) about their negative experience.
The goal of all these companies is to raise the “net promoter score.” They embed new practices into their operations so they can measure these scores by location every day. They make the scores available to their managers and often include the score as part of their evaluations and bonuses.
How to Use the Question. One of the things you learn from the book is that to use this system correctly you need to change the way you collect, evaluate, and use customer feedback information. There has to be an arms’ length way to collect the responses because you don’t want the data to be easily manipulated by people whose evaluations and bonuses depend on it.
Also, it is very important to respond to detractors and try to satisfy them. If you do this effectively, former detractors can make great future promoters. And this is one of the important findings and suggestions in the book.
I thought it was interesting to read that many organizations, including Apple, use the one question to get employee feedback about the organization.
One final advantage is that the system is fast and convenient for the customer, which likely increases the amount of feedback you receive.
So, when you really think about it, you only need to remember this one question.