The Ultimate Question 2.0

The Ultimate Question 2.0 is now available! Learn more

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Author Q&A: Why we rewrote The Ultimate Question

Net Promoter Trailblazer videos

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Heading down a slippery, slippery slope

Should you change the definition of promoters, passives and detractors? Or should you stick with the accepted standard?

This question comes up fairly often in our client work. Many Bain clients are international or global companies. It turns out people in various cultures use response scales differently. Some Asian cultures, for example, mostly use the middle of the scale. Some South American cultures use the extremes. Very few Japanese respondents are give a 10, but Brazilians use the top of the scale all the time.

Should the definitions of promoter (9-10), passive (7-8) and detractor (0-6) be adapted to local markets?

Sony did it!

Click on the image to see full sizeIt appears Sony developed custom definitions of promoters, passives and detractors. I ran across this presentation slide from research firm Synovate in 2009. A client (not from Sony) recently sent it to me again when he wanted advice responding to local market pressure for changing the definition. (Guess which country manager argued for custom definitions. If you think it was the head of Brazil or Mexico, think again.)

I wonder if Sony stuck with their custom definitions, or

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Shooting videos for the new book

Fred Reichheld and I spent a full day shooting dialogue and voice-overs for a series of videos we're creating to accompany the new book. It was a really long day, but I enjoyed it. I always love spending time talking with Fred about customer loyalty, loyalty leaders, and how the Net Promoter system helps leaders drive culture change. The big problem wasn't finding enough to say during the eight hours of shooting. Instead, it was getting me and Fred to stop talking so the crew could change batteries or memory cards!

Among the videos we have in the pipeline: 

  • Net Promoter Trailblazers -- four to eight minute videos describing the culture of loyalty-leading companies and how the Net Promoter system has helped them achieve their goals. These are really highly produced and very cool
  • Book highlights -- Fred and I talking about what's new in The Ultimate Question 2.0
  • Inspiring company stories -- Fred and I discussing some of the more inspiring companies we've worked with or run across and why we admire them

The crew who set up and shot the videos was super professional and made the day a real pleasure. Quite a "star" experience all around!

We'll be pulling these and others together over the next few months.

Here are some photos from the day.

Fred Reichheld recording voiceover for one of the TrailblazersFred and Rob discussing the new bookRob Markey recording narrative for a Net Promoter Trailblazers video


Our book site is now up! Check it out

Fred Reichheld and I have been working hard to get The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World ready for publication. It will be in the stores in September.

In the meantime, you can find a rudimentary version of the book's web site at As of today, you can find several resources there:

  • Net Promoter Trailblazers videosRecent blog posts by me and Fred
  • A downloadable PDF of the first chapter, which explains what's in the new book
  • Video trailers for our new Net Promoter Trailblazer videos (4-8 minute videos about real loyalty leaders)
  • The ability to pre-order copies of the book, including customization options

Let us know what you think. Do you like the site? Watch here (and there) for more info about what's coming.

We'll be updating the site little by little over the next few months with more about the book, why we wrote it, the Net Promoter system and what's going on in the Net Promoter community.


Introducing The Promoter Flywheel

About 18 months ago, I had an experience with Hertz that illustrated some of the challenges companies confront trying to move beyond simply calculating a Net Promoter score to pursuing the Net Promoter system. If you're interested, you can read about it here (An unfortunate experience with a rental car return).

My experience provides a great illustration of how a company's policies and procedures around bad profits can impact employee engagement and loyalty, and the pernicious doom loop that results. In this case, a system had been set up to ensure the revenue associated with bad profits was collected. No care was taken to avoid insulting customers or calling them liars. Far too many companies engage in similar behavior, not only angering customers, but demoralizing employees.

At Bain, we've been doing more and more client work around the link between employee and customer loyalty as part of the Net Promoter system. Several clients now measure employee NPS (sometimes called "eNPS"). Most have learned the value of devoting just as much effort to earning employee advocacy as customer advocacy, and the virtuous cycle that can create.

Promoter Flywheel is a service mark of Bain & Company, Inc.We call this virtuous cycle "The Promoter Flywheel." We chose the word flywheel with some care. In engineering terms,

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jetBlue makes fun of bad profits

jetBlue has come out with a great ad campaign that pokes fun at the Detractor-creating fees and policies that create bad profits for other airlines. Really provocative illustration of the concept of bad profits.

To see some of the others in this amusing series, check out their playlist on YouTube.