One of the most important elements to any business is their customers. The most important is customer satisfaction. Word of mouth is one of the best marketing methods, it is free and more likely to come from a trusted source. Therefore, knowing and understanding customers is essential and in today’s current economic climate any business who doesn’t understand this will inevitably struggle.

www.appliancesonline.co.uk are going above and beyond for their customers and one way in which this is being achieved is through ‘the ultimate question’. Fred Reichheld, a US author proposed that by asking one simple question a company’s future could be determined. This is where the Net Promoter Score (NPS) comes into play. How many businesses can honestly say that they know what their customers are really feeling? Appliances Online have taken Reichheld’s advice and got to the bottom of what customers are really feeling and through using the NPS the company can identify with what their customers say about them.

The ‘ultimate question’ used is “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” and customers will answer on a scale of 1 to 10. Customers will then fall into one of three groups, a detractor, promoter or passive depending on where they score on the scale. These scores are then calculated together using the promoter’s % minus the detractor’s %. Most companies will score around 5 - 10% an outstanding company will be around 50 – 80%. This score shows how happy your customers really are, what they really think about a company. A company scoring less than 5% needs to question what they are doing, a customer who gives you 7 out of 10 wasn’t truly satisfied and this is where you need to understand why and get a better grasp on what their needs are.

Appliances Online have put into action asking the ultimate question, with a successful trial the company will carry on using this method to find out how to continuously improve whilst listening to individual customer comments. The NPS isn’t a one off, you cannot just conduct it once and assume that is your score. Customer satisfaction is always changing and companies need to constantly be moving forward to exceed expectations.

To ensure that the NPS is carried out properly companies need to follow the three D’s; design, deliver and develop. Design is referring to the value proposition for the customer, connect with the customers from each group (passive, promoter and detractor) and listen to what they have to say about you. The second point is to deliver, to ensure that the customer is satisfied at all stages throughout their journey. The final point is to develop, continuously improve and change to satisfy your customer.

If you choose to ignore your customer’s opinions and feelings then you can hardly be surprised if they don’t come back. The NPS is an ideal way to find out how others perceive your company and asking the ultimate question can allow you to step back and gain perspective as often it is far too easy to get wrapped up in thinking you are doing it right – when far to often simple changes can make all the difference.

Published on: 9:14AM on 20th February 2009