I thought the ultimate question was that one about the meaning of life! But ever since the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy delivered the answer (42, by the way) there has been a gap in the market for a new ultimate question.
According to author Fred Reichheld, this question is actually "how likely would you be to refer a friend or colleague to my business?". In his popular book, The Ultimate Question 2.0, he spends a lot of time detailing why he believes all business owners should consider this to be the most important question you can ask your clients. He is referring, of course, to surveys of customers - not the meaning of life. But for some businesses, referrals from clients could be almost as important.
I know that Telstra and some other large corporations take this question so seriously that everyone is measured and paid on the answer customers provide. That's pretty serious when the CEO gets part of his bonus based on whether customers appreciate his company enough to recommend their friends.
So why is this question so important? Here are three reasons why:
THE THREE REASONS WHY HOW LIKELY YOU ARE TO GET A REFERRAL FROM A FRIEND OR COLLEAGUE IS THE ULTIMATE QUESTION FOR YOUR BUSINESS.
1) Because it tells you about your brand. The value of this question is that is encompasses so many answers to other questions. If you were to ask how happy you are with the service, if the price was right, how was the perception of the brand, etc., you would get a good idea of their satisfaction. But we know that people will not refer you to a friend unless they score you highly in all of these areas. It's a short-cut and in this day and age, short is better.
2) Because it is short. Have you seen these surveys that promise to be only a few minutes but actually are so long they remind you the lines at Disneyland. You know the ones - you think you are about to get on the ride, but it's actually just the end of line 1 and the other 5 lines are hiding just around the corner. Grrrr!
If companies are prepared to offer me an iPad, I would spend some of my precious time to answer the 58 questions but, for free? You’ve got to be kidding. Telstra, on the other hand, do it well. At the end of every call, the automated recording asks you to hold on for a survey and it's one question - the ultimate question. Neat. Xero accounting software has a nice survey on all their website pages too: "Overall, how are you feeling about Xero?" with three faces. Cute and simple but not quite as compelling as that ultimate question.
In the fast-paced world where short is betterif you can only squeeze one bit of feedback out of your customers, make it this one.
3) Because referrals are gold. Referrals in businesses have a closure rate of about 25 - 50%, depending on the type of business you have and how respected the referrer is. In my business, the closure rate is about 50% or greater. Needless to say, it's a vital part of our business. When you compare referrals statistics to an internet marketing campaign where a good close rate is 1% of click-throughs, referrals suddenly look pretty good! You can read more about referral marketing here.
The Ultimate question and use of the Net Promoter Score is a genuinely effective way to measure exactly how many clients are prepared to refer you. Then you can work on increasing this score over time.
There you go - Andy's personal guide to using the Ultimate question in your business surveys to e-ttract more clients to your business via referrals.
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