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Get Word of Mouth – FAST

Learning from the big boys

Big companies were at one time someone’s idea.  Whether you want to grow to 50 or 5,000, take a page from the playbook of global giants, like GE, Nike, Apple and others and use Net Promoter® scores to identify solid influencers.  It’s simple, cheap and it can create a word of mouth campaign to attract new customers.

Cheap & easy?  Tell me more!

Net Promoter is a statistic for measuring loyalty as well a strategy to leverage customer feedback to increase sales.  It’s perfect for a service business because it’s simple, holds you accountable for how your clients are treated and provides instant insight on how you can improve.

It all starts with one question:  How likely are you to recommend (your name) to a colleague or friend?

Survey your customers

1.  Have a neutral third party call your clients.  Have them ask the question above by rank of 1 – 10, 10 being Extremely Likely

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2.  Keep track of the responses individually.

3.  Calculate your Net Promoter Score
Net Promoter Score = % Promoters (9 and 10) – % Detractors (0 through 6)

Promoters, Passives & Detractors, oh my!

Your clients will be divided into three categories: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors.

  • Promoters (score 9-10) – loyal enthusiasts who will refer others
  • Passives (score 7-8) – satisfied, unenthusiastic and vulnerable to competitive offerings
  • Detractors (score 0-6) – unhappy – can damage your brand through negative word-of-mouth

For example, we survey 30 clients over the last two years:
67% (20 people) are Promoters (9 – 10)
23% (7 people) are Passives (7-8)- remember, we don’t use this number in the calculation
10% (3 people) are Detractors
Our NPS is 57%

What’s a good score?

According to industry reports:

  • Apple has a NPS of 79%. Not apples-to-apples (no pun) plus they have a cult brand
  • At 32%, Wachovia has the highest NPS score for general banking services

Granted, your sample size will be smaller than the companies listed above, but it should give you an indication where your clients fall categorically.

OK, now what?

Your first goal should be to convert Passives into Promoters so they will actively refer friends and colleagues to you.  Then, concentrate on moving the Detractors into the Passives category.  But how?

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If only you knew the reason anyone gave you a score of less than 9…  Wait, here’s a thought.  Ask!

Why did you give me a 6 ??

Add a 2nd question your survey:   What is the main reason you gave a score of X?

While you will need to put these answers into context, you should begin to see a trend in the answers from each group.

Compare the answers from Detractors and Passives to those from the Promoters, and you should have a pretty clear picture how you can circumvent the avoidable shortfalls with future clients.

Kiss & make up

Finally, decide if you are comfortable addressing any of the issues with your Passives.  It could be something so minor a quick conversation or handwritten note (where you fall on the sword, whether you agree with their thoughts or not) that could move them straight into the Promoter category, creating a source of referrals – and perhaps an evangelist!

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photo courtesy SwissCan via Flickr

Written By

Brandie is an unapologetically candid marketing professional who was recently mentioned on BusinessWeek as a Top Young Female Entrepreneur. She recently co-founded consulting firm MarketingTBD. She's held senior level positions with GE and Fidelity, as well as with entrepreneurial start-ups. Raised by a real estate Broker, Brandie is passionate about real estate and is an avid investor. Follow her on Twitter.



  1. Jim Whatley

    January 22, 2009 at 8:42 pm

    it all about word of mouth. the question how do you get word of mouth started?

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