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The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  614 ratings  ·  56 reviews
Based on extensive research, 'The Ultimate Question' shows how companies can rigorously measure Net Promoter statistics, help managers improve them, and create communities of passionate advocates that stimulate innovation. ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Harvard Business Review Press
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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Deane Barker
Dec 25, 2018 rated it liked it
A solid introduction to the Net Promoter Score methodology of performance reporting that falls into a common trap: it could be a blog post, or a 30-page ebook.

To get this thing published, the authors had to pad it out to book length, and it's just way, way, way long. It talks about the same things, over and over -- NPS is actually a pretty simple concept -- and goes into case study after case study.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good book, and I believe in the idea of NPS. But, seriously, this didn'
Aug 16, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: business
since the company i worked for adopted this simple method of measuring customer's satisfaction, i need to know it better especially when our first reaction (in this part of the world, Indonesia) is "are we sure we want to do this? here, 9 and 10 are reserved for the good prophet Mohammad and God, so when would we score a good one?" but this is a good way to roll out customer-centredness around the block through every single person and the book is a roadmap to ensure the method's done properly.

Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A good book to understand framework for application of NPS in organisation and how to implement and monitor the outcome for the same. I like the chapter where framework was provided to measure profitability with NPS on different axis and ultimately decisions of retention and conversion of different set of customers to ultimately generate more of good profits for the organisation.
Ton Nguyen
Jun 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
A solid introduction to the Net Promoter Score and the importance of customer metrics. The concept is simple and already explained in the first 40 pages or so. The rest of the book consists of case studies which I found interesting as well.
Donovan Richards
Dec 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Good Ethics Is Good Business?

Spend any time with a business executive and you might hear the cliché, “Good ethics is good business.” Setting aside the clear disassociation between this statement and the way American businesses operate, the philosopher in me reacts negatively to such statements. Often times, good ethics does equal high profits, but such a statement should never paint broad strokes. Occasionally, the right decision costs a firm extensive money.

However, Fred Reichheld’s The Ultimat
Apr 04, 2020 rated it it was ok
300 pages to tell people to ask 1 question. An article would have sufficed.
Dec 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-book-list
First-half was really good. Second-half, not so much. This book offers a great question, the ultimate question in fact, for organizations to ask their customers: How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?

Some other take-aways:

* There are bad profits and good profits. Whenever a customer feels misled, mistreated, ignored or coerced, then profits from that customer are bad.
Bad profits arise when companies save money by delivering a lousy customer experience
Josh Steimle
Sep 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sometimes a book comes along just when you need it. Were it not for that perhaps I would have given it a lower, I probably would still give it a four. Well, maybe a 3.5. I'm not sure the concept justifies the existence of an entire book. I think the point could be well communicated in an article, the book merely backs up the point with data and anecdotes. It's a book you can quickly skim through and still walk away with the gist, which is this--if you want your business to make more m ...more
Don Trowden
May 18, 2012 rated it liked it
There is much to like about this book and the development of the NPS (Net Promoter Score) method for determining who the promoters of a business are and who are the detractors. I do find it difficult to believe, however, that more businesses did not already know the importance of the one big question: "Would you recommend company x or product x to your friends?" In my experience, this question has been the big one in research studies at least back to 1990 and quite possibly before then. I do lik ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
This is the book through which Reichheld conveys the story behind his Net Promoter Score. Bain and Associates did research to determine which of several potential questions best relate to increased loyalty. The winner: On a scale of 0-10, how likely are you to recommend [company] to your family and friends? The "net promoter score" is the percentage of promoters minus the percentage of detractors. The approach proves itself empirically, as companies across industries show correlation between bet ...more
Jon Nguyen
Dec 01, 2009 rated it it was ok
It makes some okay points on how to think about your customers, but this is like a lot of other business books in how it extols this one thing as the secret to all success. Most of the examples in the book didn't even use the "ultimate" question. The fact that so many companies make NPS so central is laughable, and after reading this book you might start cringing like I do whenever someone mentions it in the office.

It can be a useful question to ask, but it's only a starting point and certainly
Jun 25, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
This book was required reading for work. Our organization has embraced the NPS (net promoter score) metric. We used this book as our template in developing a white paper for standardizing the methodological implementation across our companies. It is the bible for correlating a simple metric to "good" profits.

Remember, that obtaining the score is not the important part in this effort. Back-end work must be done to ensure that customers are happy customers and plans must be in place to deliver the
Jul 13, 2009 rated it it was ok
Good for understanding the importance of customer metrics and establishing sound scorecard systems for tracking an aspect of organizational success over time. Not keen on the idea that a single question is the right thing to do; all I could think of during my first read through was the utmate answer: forty-two. But then that's the answer to another ultimate question, isn't it? Also, the 10 point scale recommended by the author, while intuitively attractive doesn't appeal from a practitioner stan ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Reichheld , a well-known Customer Loyalty expert pitches for a methodology aimed towards increasing the customer response rate and also proposes a single metric called Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure the customer satisfaction. Based on the NPS score a company can take strategic actions to improve its profits and growth rate.
Highly readable book supported by case studies, though slightly repetitive.
More about this book @
Mark Fallon
Jan 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
With the right editor, this book would’ve made a very good article in a business magazine. Reichheld is correct in stating that companies should focus on good customers and learn from all customers. However, his methodology isn’t the only way of doing so. And while he points that out in the book, he still believes that his “NPS” should be a reported standard for all companies.

By the way, did you know that Reichheld worked at Bain Capital? Don’t worry, he’ll remind you every few pages.
Nick Swerdfeger
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Great read and resource to help you set an effective and measurable customer strategy.

Reichheld outlines a compelling case for using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to understand and measure what really matters when it comes to your customers. The simple, effective and measurable framework he presents for NPS clearly illustrates the opportunity of going beyond just "customer satisfaction" and into the the more powerful measures of customer loyalty and word of mouth economics.
Elizabeth Orta
Nov 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Due to my position within the company I wanted to learn more about the Net Promoter Score and how it can benefit my organization.

The concepts are basic and make sense. What was a disappointment is while it did use real world examples like eBay, Harley, and Amazon it didn't really advise in how to make NPS work to the best benefit of an organization.

The book as a whole seemed to promote the concept but not explain how to make it work.
Oct 11, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to improve their work
Shelves: business
Easy read. It gives a easy way to measure and improve a product/service/etc to ensure customer satisfaction. I think it should be applied everywhere (Libraries, Comcast, and other companies that have stopped caring about the customer).

My opinion, the first 3 to 4 chapters explain everything. The rest of the book is filler & examples.
Dan Graham
Apr 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
A great book about the power of customer service to influence repeat purchasing, word of mouth and order values. Most importantly this book seeks to show how the typically anecdotal metric of customer satisfaction can be measured in a way that closely correlates with increased long term value for the customer. A great read.
Charles Thornton
Jul 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The evidence given for the validity of this simple concept of determining a companies effectiveness is very convincing. It is a simple approach that can be applied to any business or organization. I refer to this book often when visiting with business leaders. Any business leader or owner would benefit from reading the book.
Nov 05, 2007 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Managers , Executives
Shelves: business
- Very good details to understand good and bad profits. I have not thought about bad profits till I read this book.
- Good guide to prove that Net Promoter Score is one question to ask to know about company's growth.
- Esp. last chapter covers a complete book's essence.

Its interesting....
Troy Kuhn
Jan 23, 2008 rated it liked it
A very simple and easy read. Good for anyone that runs a business or works for a company and wants to get ideas to increase customer satisfaction. Good idea to use a 10 point scale for customer surveys.
Feb 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: marketers, business people, managers of all cell phone & broadband providers
Recommended to Sonny by: Da boss. Thanks, boss.
Good quick read in preparation for establishing a metric for client satisfaction. As much as you need to know if you just need some background on this survey metric. And more comprehensive documentation if you need to be convinced or need to convince others to the wisdom of this approach.
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book to read for anyone who is trying to find a way to measure true performance in a business environment. It's a pretty neat book to read too, to help you evaluate the service company's offer their customers. I'd highly recommend it. ...more
Chip Miller
Oct 14, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
The author provides a convincing case for loyalty based marketing efforts. In addition the author puts forward a loose framework for testing loyalty (not as convincing as the loyalty case)

The author also wrote Loyalty Rules: How Today's Leaders Build Lasting Relationships
Seth Kolloen
Oct 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Dude says that if your customers aren't promoting your service you are toast. I can see this becoming more and more important as media gets diffuse and people interact more about their purchases. You can't bully people into buying a crummy product with advertising anymore. ...more
Adam Decker
Dec 03, 2010 rated it liked it
I really buy into the concept of the Ultimate Question and believe it can apply to most any business. In fact, will be working to apply to mine. The main point was delivered in the first chapter, so the rest of the book seemed to drag on.
Hunter Johnson
Even though it is also a promotion for the author's firm's services, there is a wealth of information here useful to anyone who would like to grow their audience (customers or otherwise). Nice match with "How to Measure Anything" too. ...more
Kendall Nielsen
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
I liked several of their points about reducing the volume of feedback collected from one's customers and boiling it down to a simple question. I don't know it is as simple as the writer makes it sound though. ...more
Oct 06, 2007 is currently reading it
Recommends it for: marketers
A galvanizing read but is it really practical?
I employ the spirit but question real world usability.
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