A guest blog post by Pat Hirst
One of the biggest concerns any business owner has is how to grow their business. As speakers we speculate about the potential and desire of current clients to hire us again in the future. We often ask clients for a testimonial or reference to support future business. But the potential for future business doesn’t just reside with the Human Resource specialists, event planners or the contact that booked you.
Everyone in your audience is a potential referral for new business. In fact, everyone who listens to you speak has the capacity to help you grow your business by referring you to their own company, spouse, friend or relative who is in a position to hire you or refer you to their friends and colleagues.
On the other hand a dissatisfied customer has the potential to make negative comments about you and your business. So when you are finished a presentation how do you know what the audience really thinks? Will you be unleashing a group of happy clients out to promote you and your business, or a group of dissatisfied detractors?
Fred Reichheld, the author of the Ultimate Question, has researched customers’ willingness to refer a product or service as a driver of company growth. For decades companies have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to develop customer satisfaction surveys that can predict whether customers will refer you.
Fred boiled it down to the “ultimate” question, “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” This question provides you with information that accurately predicts customer behaviour and whether you can anticipate gaining referrals from a session. Respondents to the question are asked to indicate their answer on a scale from 0 – 10.
The responses are then mapped in three groupings:
0 to 6 – Detractors – They are people that give a rating of 0 – 6 on the 10 point scale. They account for 80% of negative word of mouth comments. People who respond at this level did not enjoy the experience and would not repeat it or recommend it to others. They would tend to complain and disparage the experience and your service to others.
7 or 8 – Passives – They are respondents who rate a 7 or 8. They are people who were passively satisfied with the experience. They may give an unenthusiastic referral but would easily jump to another speaker or service.
9 or 10 – Promoters – They are people that rate their experience a 9 or 10. They will readily refer your product or service to others. They loved the experience so much that they are willing to stake their own reputation on referring you to others.
The responses that you receive allow you to calculate a Net Promoter Score (NPS). It is calculated by taking the number of promoters minus the detractors to determine a percentage.
For example, if you talked to a group of 100 people and you asked them the ultimate question on the evaluation form — “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” And you received the following data from the 82 forms that were returned… because hey, whoever gets 100 percent return on feedback forms?
Detractors: 0 – 6 ……. 15 people
Passives: 7 & 8’s ……. 45 people
Promoters: 9 & 10’s ……. 22 people
The NPS score would be calculated as follows:
Promoters – Detractors = NPS or P 22 – D 15 = NPS 7
Divide by the number of responses:
7 divided by 82 = 8.5%
The NPS is 8.5 %
A positive NPS score correlates with business growth. A low or negative NPS correlates to a lack of growth and a need to understand how to improve our service.
On my evaluation forms I ask the following, which tells me whether people liked the session/content and what they thought of your delivery.
Please rate the following questions by checking under the appropriate number:
(0 = unlikely — 10= highly likely)
Evaluation Question One: How likely are you to recommend this session to others?
Evaluation Question Two: How likely are you to recommend this facilitator to others?
You will note that when people respond with a seven or an eight, these numbers do not factor into the NPS score. This is because the seven or eight respondent is essentially neutral. They are unlikely to refer you and they are unlikely to bad mouth you. Passives are often the best source of information about what you could do better to make them a loyal supporter.
Not considering a seven or eight in an evaluation can be troubling and counter-intuitive to many of us because we have learned that a 75 or 80% is not bad. In the context of NPS, it is indicating the respondent’s willingness to refer us and our service.
When I see a response that is a 7 or 8 (or lower) and a respondent provides contact information, I do follow-up with them because it provides me a chance to learn what needs or concerns they had that were not met and how I can improve the experience in the future.
These are two follow-up questions that you can ask:
- What are we not doing that you would like us to do?
- What can we do to improve the experience in the future?
The NPS system can be used to get feedback about any product or service. There are number of Fortune 500 Companies that use the NPS method to track their growth potential and determine customer loyalty. These include: Ford, Kelly Services, CARSTAR, and TD-Canada Trust to name a few.
In order to help the NPS system work for you, consider the following:
- Don’t tell customers that you want a 9 or 10. If you do this you are distorting the results and will not get good feedback because the respondent may feel reluctant to give you a lower score than you asked.
- Consequently, this means that you may never understand how you could improve or how your presentation is turning people off.
- Try to not get defensive when people don’t give you a 9 or 10 – get curious and really listen to how you can improve to develop loyal customers.
Using the simple NPS question and adapting it to your business can give you powerful information on future referrals and your opportunity for growth. For further information about the Ultimate Question please see: http://www.netpromotersystem.com/book/index.aspx
Cori Brownlee – PrairieGirlEditing.com