This Single Survey Question Can Predict Growth

I travel a lot and I dine out a lot. I shop a fair amount. My adventures land customer satisfaction survey after survey in my inbox, most of which I ignore. I ignore the surveys because so many of them ask irrelevant questions. By irrelevant, I mean they ask questions that don’t truly help companies identify their most enthusiastic and loyal customers or their questions don’t actually help them gauge customer satisfaction.

Today, when I opened my MacBook and checked my email, I got, perhaps, the single best customer satisfaction survey I have ever received. It’s from Grub Hub, a handy website that helps you find and order food from wherever you are. Here’s the survey I got today from Grub Hub.

Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 8.06.58 AM

The Grub Hub survey asks a single question. “How likely is it that you would recommend Grub Hub to a friend or colleague?” That’s it.

So, why do I just love this single question customer satisfaction survey? Because  the reality is, there’s only one thing organizations need to measure if they are trying to predict growth. 

Andy Taylor, CEO of Enterprise Holdings was on to something

The idea for a singe question customer satisfaction survey first came to me from one of my clients, National Car Rental, which is owned by Enterprise Holdings. Enterprise Holdings CEO, Andy Taylor, talked about how Enterprise measured and managed customer loyalty with a simple 2-question survey that was taken every month in Enterprise’s more than 5,000 branches worldwide. The survey asked one question about the quality of the customer’s rental experience and the other question asked about the likelihood that they would rent from the company again. That was it.

Frederick Reichheld spent 2 years researching Andy Taylor’s survey concept

Frederick Reichheld, author of The Loyalty Effect, spent 2 years researching Andy Taylor’s unusual practice of measuring customer loyalty based on a simple 2-question survey. Here’s what he concluded:

A single question can predict growth —-> “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

The results were clear yet counterintuitive. It turned out that a single survey question can, in fact, serve as a useful predictor of growth. But that question isn’t about customer satisfaction or even loyalty—at least in so many words. Rather, it’s about customers’ willingness to recommend a product or service to someone else. In fact, in most of the industries that I studied, the percentage of customers who were enthusiastic enough to refer a friend or colleague—perhaps the strongest sign of customer loyalty—correlated directly with differences in growth rates among competitors.

Andy Taylor’s success in achieving loyalty and growth with Enterprise Holdings and Reichheld’s research suggest that a concise new approach to customer satisfaction surveys might just be the answer companies are looking for. A lengthy survey with irrelevant questions turns customers off and doesn’t provide useful data, if your goal is to measure and predict growth. Take a look at your customer satisfaction survey. Is it truly measuring what you want and need to measure? Is it possible that you can get more usable data and better predict growth by ditching a long list of questions and simply asking, “How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague?”

What you need to do now that you know this

I recommend you pull out your customer satisfaction surveys and discuss the success and productivity of what you’re currently doing. If what you’re doing is truly helping you improve your customer experience and predict growth, great. Don’t change anything. But if your customer satisfaction surveys don’t help you improve the customer experience, drive loyalty and predict growth, you have work to do.

Source cited:

Reichheld, Frederick., “The One Number You Need to Grow,” Retrieved from

Client Case Study

Service and Quality
For National Car Rental and Alamo Car Rental (Now Enterprise Holdings) we designed a program to improve the customer service index for the company’s most challenged locations. The program included the design of a system for problem handling, instilling a sense of urgency in serving customers, specific tools to help managers coach service employees to optimal performance, and easy-to-implement strategies for surprising and delighting customers.

“Myra provided Customer Service coaching to one of my “troubled” business locations. A year later, my employees still reference Myra and the customer service concepts she instilled into that workgroup. My positive customer service measurables increased…all sparked by Myra’s personable approach to enlightening others. Thanks Myra!!! ”

Charles Pugh, SPHR
Regional Manager – Human Resources at Enterprise Holdings Inc.

Learn more about our consulting, training and keynote services at