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When the Ultimate Question is not so ultimate

When the "Ultimate Question" is all you ask me, it doesn’t feel right. In fact it bugs me!

I recently logged into an online application and up popped the following one-question survey: "How likely is it that you would recommend our service to a colleague?"

You might say, "What’s the big deal? They’re just trying to get your feedback so they can improve."

I don’t agree.

When this question is asked all by itself, it doesn’t feel like they are trying to improve. Instead, it feels like they’re simply keeping score. It feels like they just want a rating. If they wanted any sort of insight, advice, or commentary they would at least add a simple open-end statement asking me to share additional thoughts. After all, if I were to provide a negative score, wouldn’t they want to know why? 

More importantly, when it is the only question posed, I don’t like that it feels self-serving. "Would you recommend me?" instead of "What else can I do to help you?"

Don’t get me wrong, it is not a bad question. In fact, at Walker we have found it to be an excellent question to understand customer attitudes. Also, this is not a knock on Net Promoter. Although it has been heavily marketed as "The Ultimate Question" implying that it is the only question you need, most proponents of NPS would agree that the question needs to be posed within some context.

So go ahead and ask if I would recommend you. But also ask me why. And ask me what else you can do to help me. Because I don’t really care about your score. I care about whether or not your service is meeting my needs.

Patrick Gibbons
Principal, SVP

About the Author

Patrick Gibbons

Patrick Gibbons

As Principal and Senior Vice President of Marketing for Walker, Gibbons has global responsibility for definition, branding, and promotion of the company and its solutions. Gibbons has published and/or contributed to a number of articles, papers, and blogs on customer intelligence topics and has a regular column in CRM Magazine. He has been a featured speaker at a wide range of conferences, and has produced a series of educational events for customer experience leaders.

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