A Remarkable Discovery

There is a one-question survey that will help you know if you are remarkable.

Word of mouth, referral and, of course, repeat business are critical to your success. Many of us have been taught that, to get more referrals, we have to ask for them. But just asking is not enough. In fact, asking may not really even be necessary. To get more referrals (and repeat business from loyal customers), be “referralable” or remarkable.

Think about it. If I visited your town and asked you to recommend a restaurant, you would likely be able to do that because you have probably found at least one restaurant in your town that is remarkable. You love it and are loyal to it. That does not mean it is the only restaurant you patronize—just one of your favorites, depending on the type of restaurant you’re looking for at the time. Did the restaurant ask you for referrals? Probably not. It earned the right to be referred by you because of the products and services it provides. Its offerings and distinction have made you loyal.

Loyal customers of remarkable companies tell others when they get the chance. They may not all get the chance, but they will be back buying from you, which makes them a repeat customer—and valuable to you. It’s about creating loyal customers, because loyal customers spend more, buy more often, pay higher prices and refer more customers to you than “ordinary” customers.

What do you do that makes you remarkable? You might think you know, but then again you may not have a clue if you even are remarkable to your customers. You have so many opportunities to be distinctive to your customers, from how you treat them, to the work you do for them, to your willingness and ability to go the extra mile for them. You have expertise, equipment and an attitude. That combination, as delivered by you and your people, provides a lot of “moments of truth” for you to make a difference with your customers.

How do you know if you are remarkable? There is a simple, no-cost way to find out. Frederick Reichheld has done research on this topic for more than 15 years and has developed a one-question survey that will help you know if you are remarkable.

His research has demonstrated convincingly (at least to me and many others) that a useful measure of customer loyalty can be created using an index tied to a single question based on willingness to refer. The question: On a scale of 0-10, what is the likelihood you would recommend a friend or colleague to our company (or shop as appropriate).

The index is scored as follows: scores of 9 or 10 are positive; scores of 7 or 8 are neutral; and scores of 0-6 are negative.

The index is calculated by taking the percentage of positive scores and subtracting from it the percentage of negative scores. The index can range from +100 percent (all scores are 9 or 10) to -100 percent (all scores are 0-6). The obvious objective is to increase your score by increasing the number of 9s and 10s and eliminating all 0-6 scores. How to do this is the purpose of our second recommended question: If you could get us to do just one thing or change one thing that would improve that score, what would you have us do or change?

By asking enough people this question, Pareto’s Law (the 80/20 rule) will show you where to focus your efforts to improve willingness to refer, which is a proxy for loyalty. The key is to get the results and take action to improve where customers tell you it matters. There are lots of ways to get better, but focusing on what matters to your customers allows you to get the most leverage from the resources you have.

You can conduct this survey yourself via telephone, in person, e-mail or mail. These two questions are all you need to ask to get effective results, and a two-question survey will get lots of responses. The more questions you ask, the fewer responses you will get until the only people who respond are people who love you or hate you and that becomes a biased survey.

In today’s marketplace, you have too many competitors making it hard for your customers to know how to choose. Let them help you understand if and how you are remarkable and how to become more so. It’s free to know, and all it takes after that is deliberate action to execute on your part.