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The REAL Ultimate Question to ask your customers

We are blogging over at the Execubooks ‘thought leaders’ blog (they think I’m a thought-leader and so invited me: stop laughing; I can hear you from here) on Fred Reichheld’s book The Ultimate Question, which claims there is one question you should ask customers instead of all those time-wasting, self-serving customer satisfaction questionnaires that have become an industry in themselves.

So, I’m committing the sin of almost repeating my post over there over here, if you see what I mean.

Fred’s ultimate question is “Would you recommend us to a friend?” And it’s a great question. He recommends scrapping all your satisfaction surveys and replacing them with this one ultimate question. Enterprise Rent-a-Car has done something similar, and to great effect.

But, it’s still a question about intention. And customer intentions are slippery beasts. There is a better question.

I heard Chris Pilling, the CEO of the UK bank First Direct describe a better question that they ask customers:

“HAVE you recommended us to a friend?”

It’s a measure of actuality, not intent; of what customers are doing now, not what they say they might do.

He gets a massive positive reaction to that question from First Direct customers: an astonishing 96% of customers say ‘yes’, 86% saying they have recommended the bank in the previous year. As a result, 36% of all new customers come from existing customer recommendations.

Reichheld told me off once when I interviewed him and had the temerity to ask “Is loyalty dead, Fred?”. But, I didn’t mind, as it was a cheeky question. He has converted thousands of marketers from a ‘get customers’ mentality to a ‘keep customers’ mentality. And you have to love him for that. Still a long way to go, of course…

This tip is a sample from a book I am putting together called
One A Day
365 Practical Ways to
Get Closer
to Your Customer

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