CEOs regularly announce ambitious growth targets, then fail to achieve them. The reason? Their growing addiction to bad profits. These corporate steroids boost short-term earnings but alienate customers. They undermine growth by creating legions of detractors - customers who complain loudly about the company and switch to competitors at the earliest opportunity. Based on extensive research, "The Ultimate Question" shows how companies can rigorously measure Net Promoter statistics, help managers improve them, and create communities of passionate advocates that stimulate innovation. Vivid stories from leading-edge organizations illustrate the ideas in practice. Practical and compelling, this is the one book - and the one tool - no growth-minded leader can afford to miss.
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Fred Reichheld is a Director Emeritus of Bain and Company and a Bain Fellow. He is the Author of The Loyalty Effect as well as of influential articles in Harvard Business Review and the Wall Street Journal. His Work has been featured in leading publications including the New York Times, Business Week, the Financial Times, and The EconomistFrom Publishers Weekly:
Almost everyone appreciates the importance of customer satisfaction in business, but this book takes that idea to two extremes. First, it claims that customer satisfaction is more important than any business criterion except profits. Second, it argues that customer satisfaction is best measured by one simple question, "Would you recommend this business to a friend?" Pressure for financial performance tempts executives to seek "bad profits," that is, profits obtained at the expense of frustrating or disappointing customers. Such profits inflate short-term financial results, Reichheld writes, but kill longer-term growth. Only relentless focus on customer satisfaction can generate "good profits." One unambiguous question, with answers delivered promptly, can force organizational change, he claims. Reichheld makes a strong rhetorical case for his ideas, but is weaker on supporting evidence. The negative examples he gives are either well-known failures or generic entities like "monopolies," "cell phone service providers" and "cable companies." When presenting statistics on poor performers, the names are omitted "for obvious reasons." On the other hand, the positive examples are named, but described in unrealistically perfect terms. Believable comparisons of companies with both virtues and flaws would have been more instructive. (Mar.)
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