Client Feedback Tool
  • Can the Ultimate Question Help Your Firm?

    Posted on March 7th, 2012 1 comment

    Net Promoter – Now Offered in Client Feedback Tool 

    Based on popular demand, we are pleased to announce that the Client Feedback Tool version 5.3 now includes support for the Net Promoter Score/Ultimate Question survey methodology. Read on to understand what this is, how it complements our current system, and how to start using it. 

    Net Promoter Score Overview 

    In recent years, the Net Promoter Score (NPS) customer satisfaction system has become a popular and widely used management metric. Many modern satisfaction and Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs in some way incorporate NPS as a device. 

    The founding principles of NPS can be found in The Ultimate Question, a book by Fred Reichheld. In short, Reichheld lays out a methodology in which ONE QUESTION (the Ultimate Question) provides data highly predictive of future growth and success. 

    Based on extensive and sound research, NPS provides a simple, single metric by which to track your outcomes and progress. The basic question asked is: 

    How likely are you to refer us to a colleague? 

    The answer scale ranges from 0-10, very unlikely to very likely. The theory of NPS is that anyone answering 0-6 are detractors, people who will ultimately speak poorly of your company and services. Those responding with scores of 7 and 8 are passives, those who will likely neither promote or defame your company. Finally, the promoters are those providing scores of 9 and 10 – they are very likely to promote your organization to others. 

    Your Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the difference between promoters and detractors. For example, if you have 52% promoters and 18% detractors, your NPS is 34. Passives in this case don’t count. 

    The very best corporations in America receive NPS scores consistently in the 75% range (think Apple, USAA, Google). Others, such as Time Warner Cable and many other telecoms actually have negative Net Promoter Scores (more detractors than promoters). 

    You’ll find extensive research by many pundits showing the correlation between revenue, profit, and market-share growth based on NPS. And while NPS provides a single, simple metric to show where your company currently is, the process of actually improving your NPS is much more nebulous. 

    Using Feedback to Improve NPS 

    Wait a minute.  I thought NPS was feedback. 

    Yes, NPS is a form of feedback.  But NPS is limited to telling you where you are right now (and where you’ve been, once you have history). It doesn’t provide direct insight in how to actually get better. NPS is like a street sign. The sign indicates where you are – but you need the GPS to help you navigate to where you want to be. 

    The Ultimate Question typically includes a “part 2” – which is to ask “Why did you give this score?” By harvesting this data organizations are able to gain insights on what customer perceptions are trending. This may work well for very large data sets – and is well suited to Business to Customer measurements. 

    Professional services, on the other hand, are much more personal and interactive. You don’t often have massive data sets to work with, and the value of each client tends to be a much larger percentage of your net revenue. It’s therefore relevant to use the Client Feedback Tool’s established methodology tracking client expectations in six to eight key categories (helpfulness, responsiveness, quality, accuracy, schedule, budget, etc). 

    Measuring these at major milestones during project delivery provides clear, specific, and concise guidance for how to get better for each client. During the project, when you can do something about it. Net Promoter Score becomes an additional question to ask at project completion, to identify how well you executed and created a potential promoter. 

    In contrast to our self-centering expectations scale, the NPS score is logarithmic. There is a ceiling, and as you improve over time the upward trend in NPS will become smaller and smaller, until you level out somewhere around 80% (the level the very best companies have attained). Once your NPS is higher than anyone else in the market, you have lost your ability to measure further improvement. You can no longer try something new and observe a shift in scores validating the new process actually worked better. So, while NPS is very helpful to track progress over time and understand your market position, it can’t help you identify the value of your continued improvement efforts. 

    NPS: Part of Your Complete Feedback ProgramThe Client Feedback Tool enables you to track your own performance relative to expectations, and continuously improve (even if you are already the best in the market). Adding the NPS to your approach, you can now see if you are indeed market-leading. The Net Promoter Question can be added to any survey on the fly when sending, enabled to be on by default for selected templates (e.g., a Project Completion survey), or built into the survey template design when our team creates a custom template for you. 

    Learn More 

    For questions or help with NPS, or any broader feedback questions, please contact us at and one of our consultants will help you on your feedback journey.

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    1 responses to “Can the Ultimate Question Help Your Firm?” RSS icon

    • Great summary of NPS. I think you're right to point out its drawbacks but overall there's no doubt it's an excellent measure to have in your tool-kit. If nothing else, it allows you to benchmark across sectors and industries in a way that's consistent.