Book Review – The Ultimate Question 2.0

Author: Fred Reichheld

Rating: 2 out of 5 Head Tilts



I was recommended this book by someone in the Tampa area that I respect immensely.  And I’m glad I read it – up to a point.  I was already familiar with the question in the book, but reading this gave me a better depth of understanding, and made me motivated to implement it into my company.  It’s amazing how even when we know stuff, and know we should do it, we still don’t in so many cases.

So if I’m glad I read the book, and I’m implementing it into my business, why did I only give it 2 out of 5 head tilts?  Because the book is about one single question:  The Net Promotor Score.

Honestly, how much do you need to need to read about 1 question in order for you to have a pretty good grasp of it?  I felt the author was desperate in making the same point over and over through citing case studies of companies that have used the score.  The book was more of a thesis than a business book.  I’m all for learning from other examples, so those are even well and good.  But I’m fine with 2 or 3, not an entire book with them!  And this book was version 2.0!  As if the first version didn’t have enough examples?

If you want to read the book, get the cliff notes, or summaries; it will save you time and give you all the info you need.  I’m not exaggerating here either.  The book is 90% + stories reinforcing the importance of asking one simple question.  What is the question?

On a zero-to-ten scale, how likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague?

Depending on how they answer, they fall into 1 of 3 categories:

  • Promoters (9 or 10)
  • Passives (7 or 8)
  • Detractors (6 or below)

When you take the percentage of customers who are promoters, and subtract the percentage who are detractors, the result is the Net promoter Score.

The book does a wonderful job making the argument on why companies should invest their money into customer service programs, and looking at the long term effect of short term, temporary solutions.  I did enjoy that part of the book.  Some of the quotes from the book I enjoyed:

“There is no way to deceive or exploit customers and build better relationships with them at the same time.”

“It’s worth remembering the famous Upton Sinclair dictum:  it is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

That last quote was in relation to why the marketing research traditionalists have scurried to write white papers and academic articles claiming that NPS doesn’t work.  I just liked it because it explains the entire political gridlock we have in Congress.

Overall – don’t read the book.  But do read a summary.  I’m sure you can find some articles online that go more in depth than this book review.  I’ve got better things to do, like read another book that doesn’t make me feel like I’m wasting time.  Stay tuned for that review soon.


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