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Asking "The Ultimate Question" Improves Customer Loyalty Programs

January 2013

In this digital age, is customer loyalty lost? For years, companies have relied on lengthy customer surveys to get answers; however, measuring customer loyalty can be done in a simple and authentic way. And the answers can give a wealth of information to build customer satisfaction and business success.

On October 12, St. Ambrose University hosted the Organizational Best Practices conference at the Rogalski Center on the topic of Achieving Results through Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty. The keynote speaker, Fred Reichheld, created and introduced the Net Promoter system of management in his landmark book "The Ultimate Question" (2006). The system is founded upon the principles of treating customers the way you want to be treated (The Golden Rule); achieving positive profits through terms that are understandable and agreeable to your customer; and finally, asking customers the ultimate question: "Would you refer this company to a friend?"

The simplicity of the system is impressive. Using a quantitative scale from 0 to 10, a Net Promoter Score is the difference between how many of your customers are "promoters" (giving a 9 or 10) and those who are "detractors" (with a score of 6 or below.) The difference is key, since word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful predictor of repeat purchases and promotion of your products and services.

The system is used by many Fortune 500 companies and entrepreneurial start-ups to improve customer and employee relationships and turbo-charge organic growth. With the launch of his new book, "The Ultimate Question 2.0," Reichheld spoke at the conference about how thousands of companies have adopted the system-both in moral and economic terms-in the increasingly socially connected world.

Representatives from several national and regional companies at the Organizational Best Practices Conference told their stories of customer loyalty, including Chad Vande Lune and Faye Howard, Pella Corporation; David P. Freytag, Sodexo; Cory Reed, John Deere; Steve Sabaqtke, Per Mar Security; and Amy Strawbridge, Subaru of America.

How can your company gain a competitive advantage in the market? According to Reichheld, the answer is simple. Treat customers the way you would like to be treated; grow profits in a positive and respectful way; ask customers "the ultimate question"; and measure the results. Then, use that information to continue delivering high-quality products and services to build satisfied, loyal and committed customers who also become your unofficial sales force.

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