The One Question You Have to Answer to Improve Your Reputation

By Brad Groznik

The Ultimate Question 2.0 - Fred Reichheld

I’ve recently been reading “The Ultimate Question” – a book about how to identify strategies that lead to long-term sustained profit. In the book, the authors argue that the number one question businesses should pay attention to is “would you recommend us to a friend?” That one question determines whether a business is set up for the long haul.

From a public relations perspective, this makes total sense. Businesses with good reputations are successful businesses. Think Apple, Whole Foods or your favorite local barber.

But sometimes the opposite is true – some successful businesses have poor reputations such as BP, Time Warner Cable and Bank of America.

So what separates Apple from BofA? Why is it that Apple seems to have endured through its own crisis, while BP continues to reel? Well, it all goes back to the ultimate question.

Get to know your customers

The only real way you’ll ever know what your customers think of your business is if you ask them. Send a postcard to your customers that they can fill out or email them a survey. Getting a firsthand account of where you stand with your customers is the critical first step in building your business’ reputation.

Make your customers happy

Being a customer-centric business is a buzzed about term these days but the idea is long-established. By making your customers happy, you’ll earn their loyalty and business in the long run.

Only implement strategies that please your customers as well as drive your business forward

In “The Ultimate Question,” the authors discuss the difference between good profit and bad profit. Apple’s App Store is an example of good profit. The business makes money and its customers are given access to 1.4 million smartphone apps. ATM fees, on the other hand, are an example of bad profit. The bank makes money but upsets its customers.

All in all, your business’ reputation matters and PR exercises like the ultimate question, is one way to ensure your business continues to improve its image.