The One Question You Need to Ask

As a business owner, you probably wonder if every aspect of a customer’s visit was just as you expected. As a marketer, I am one of few people who will take the time to answer long surveys sent out to me. In general, however, the more questions you ask someone about their visit, the less likely they are to complete your survey.

When I needed stitches late on a Saturday night two years ago, I had to visit the local emergency room. Three weeks after my visit a FOUR PAGE survey arrived in my mailbox. It asked me questions about every single part of my visit. There was only one thing I was unhappy about. The fact that I’d been asked, “Are you sure you’re not pregnant?”, no less than seven times, before I saw a doctor, to get stitches on my hand. Ironically, there was not a place on the survey for me to even comment on this. While I filled out the 52 questions on the four page survey, the hospital never got the chance to understand why I would probably never utilize them again in the future.

You can ask a million questions, but studies have found that there is only one question you need to ask your customers to find out if your business is going to be successful, “On a scale of zero to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend us to your friends or colleagues?”

This question is based off of something called the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Using your customer’s answers to this one question, you are able to measure the difference between the percentage of customers who give high responses, called “promoters”, to those who give low responses, called “detractors”. Promoters are people who give you a 9 or 10. These people are most likely to tell their friends and family about you. Detractors are defined as people who give you a 0 through 6. These are people who were unhappy about some portion of their visit, and they are probably going to tell someone they know about their experience. You have a 24-48 hour window to contact them and try and fix the problem. People who give you a 7 or 8 are “passively satisfied”. This means they were comfortable with their experience at your business, but they probably won’t tell anyone about their experience.

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