The Ultimate Question 2.0

"It always seemed to me that success in business and in life should result from your impact on the people you touch."

- The Ultimate Question 2.0, page 1

If you want to impact people and increase sales simultaneously and you suspect that being customer driven is key to your success then read on! In this summary I share my three key takeaways from The Ultimate Question 2.0 and I also recommend you read the book since there are many more lessons to be had!

Let’s start with what a ‘Net Promoter Score’ is for those who have not yet heard of it. If you have ever been asked “How likely would you recommend us (our product or service) on a scale from 0–10?” then you have been served by a company that has benefitted from the wisdom of Fred Reichheld and Rob Markey. In 2003 he shared the Net Promoter Score (NPS) as a new way to measure how well an organization treats its customers and how well it builds relationships that lead to loyalty.

While at first I questioned why an entire book was required to explain one magical question, I was delighted to learn that the question is just the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more we can learn! Reichheld and Markey share lessons from those who have gone before us and had tremendous success transforming their organizations based on the NPS.

Thousands of innovative companies (Apple, American Express, Allianz, Philips, GE, eBay, Facebook, LEGO, and Southwest Airlines) began using Net Promoter scores to track loyalty, engagement, and enthusiasm of their customers. They liked how easy it was and how it focused everyone on one inspirational goal – to treat customers so well that they become promoters.

Though the science is still young, users have evolved it such that it has become a management system, an entire way of doing business. The initials themselves, NPS, have come to mean Net Promoter system rather than just Net Promoter score.

This system of management helps executives focus the entire organization on turning customers into promoters; customers who come back for more and bring their friends. Who doesn’t want that? A great side effect from that outcome is that employees are energized because they feel proud of how they’ve treated their customers.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

The One Sure Path to Success: Delight Your Customers

"The only way to grow is to treat customers so well they come back for more, and tell their friends about us."
- Andy Taylor, CEO of Enterprise, quoted in The Ultimate Question 2.0, page 36

These days there is more emphasis than ever on customer centricity. And it’s no wonder. The internet empowers customers to not only find all the information they need but to share their experiences. They are in charge.

Additionally, good leaders understand that most talented employees want more than a J-O-B. They want to pursue a mission, a purpose that transcends profits and shareholders. Being customer centered creates more meaning and satisfaction for the employees.

Have you ever felt however that your organizational leaders talk out of both sides of their mouths? They claim they want to be customer focused yet the culture remains staunchly profit-centric, ruled by quarterly financial objectives and accounting metrics.

Despite all the talk companies have had about being customer focused and creating a purpose for their people, the vast majority haven’t made much progress. Reichheld shows us with many examples of companies that have grasped the Net Promoter System are finding their way.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

We want to be customer driven... but how?

"If organizations take seriously the goal of turning customers into promoters, then they must take seriously the need to measure their success."
- The Ultimate Question 2.0, page 123

Are you ready to be obsessed with your mission to be customer driven – to enrich the lives of your customers? Here is a snapshot of the necessary steps to obtain measurement consistently.

1) Use the question: How likely would you recommend us (or our product or service) to your friends or colleagues on a scale from 0–10?”  You can follow it up with What is the primary reason for the score you just gave us?”

2) Categorize the results:

  • Scores of 9-10 – Promoters. These people are suggesting that their lives have been enriched by their relationship with you/the company. They are loyal and may talk up the company to their colleagues. They represent good profits and sustainable growth.
  • Scores of 7-8 – Passives. These people are passively satisfied and not loyal. They wouldn’t likely talk enthusiastically to others about you. They have not been “delighted” yet.
  • Scores of 6 or less – Detractors. These people are dissatisfied, disaffected or even dismayed by how they are treated. They may talk badly about you/the company. This represents an opportunity to discover the problem, apologize and solve the problem.

3) Close the loop – Shortly after the score is obtained, managers should engage passives and detractors in dialogue around their experience that led to the score. They could ask “What is the most important improvement that would make you more likely to recommend us?”

4) Celebrate success and share best practice – Managers should share the promoters’ comments with all to acknowledge great work and teach others through example. This stimulates the journey to customer centricity.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Learn from those who have gone before us: 3 keys to success

"Becoming truly customer-centric and turning customers into promoters is a very long journey. ‘It’s as much about culture change as it is about organizational design and metrics.’ Says Guerrino De Luca, chairman of Logitech."
- The Ultimate Question 2.0, page 224

We can benefit and learn from those who have walked before us. Reichheld discovered that in virtually every successful application of the system, whenever NPS helped produce extraordinary improvements, the following three characteristics were prevalent:

1) Senior leadership teams and specifically the CEO made it a mission-critical priority. They embraced the improvement of customer loyalty through NPS. Why? They understood that being customer driven is morally imperative and creates profit simultaneously.

2) They wove NPS into the fabric of daily and monthly priorities. NPS customer feedback was hardwired into key decision processes up and down the organization.

3) Companies organized the NPS initiative as a long journey of cultural change and growth rather than a short-term project. They understood that NPS had to touch every part of the organization for it to generate profitable, sustainable growth.


Everyone wants to make a profit and many want to leave a legacy. The real magic happens for those who realize it’s reversed. Create a legacy of caring about customers and employees, a legacy of enriching the lives you touch and the profits with follow. Once you accept this and want to achieve and measure it, learn everything you can about the Net Promoter System. It’s not just a way of thinking but a practical guide; a blueprint for long-term growth and success. It’s indispensable.

Is it important to you to delight your customers? If so, how do you measure whether you are delighting them? How could you discover the answer to the ultimate question: “How likely would you recommend us (or our product or service) to your friends or colleagues on a scale from 0-10?”?

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Jill Donahue

ABOUT Jill Donahue

Everything I do is focused on improving patient outcomes. I do that by being a student and teacher of ethical, effective influence. I teach pharma people and health care professionals how to improve their ability to influence others...
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