Is Your Ad Agency Loved? Use The Net Promoter Score.

Every January I asked my agency’s senior advertising clients “How we doin?” Actually, I asked the question  cloaked  in a slightly more sophisticated query. Sounding like Governor Christie or the Sopranos [“How we doin?” ] might not work as well.

Our more sophisticated approach to determining if our ad agency was loved used the concept of Net Promoter Score to help us dig into the heads of our clients. We wanted to know if they were truly satisfied with the agency and our services.

We managed our request with the understanding that clients are very busy and that having a long questionnaire would add more work to their already busy day. We found that the concept of Net Promoter Score helped us meet our annual survey needs and showed our clients that we were smart. There was one more fabulous business-building benefit as you will see.

Net Promoter Score

The concept of the Net Promoter Score (NPS℠) was developed in 2003 by Fred Reichheld, a partner at Bain & Company. The objective of the NPS is to determine how well an organization generates relationships worthy of loyalty. As Bain says:

Net Promoter System℠ is based on the fundamental perspective that every company’s customers can be divided into three categories. “Promoters” are loyal enthusiasts who keep buying from a company and urge their friends to do the same. “Passives” are satisfied but unenthusiastic customers who can be easily wooed by the competition. And “detractors” are unhappy customers trapped in a bad relationship. Customers can be categorized based on their answer to the ultimate question.

The best way to gauge the efficiency of a company’s growth engine is to take the percentage of customers who are promoters and subtract the percentage who are detractors. This equation is how we calculate a Net Promoter Score for a company:






Our Technique

We sent the NPS questionnaire, which asked the simple question along with the opportunity for the client to elaborate on why they gave us a particular score, with the following letter. It worked for us and might for you. Oh, it also subtly told clients that is was cool if they in fact referred us. We liked referrals… Referrals delivered motivated new business prospects that came with a higher degree of motivation, shorter sales cycles and a higher close rate.

Here is how my agency Citrus delivered the questionnaire:

Ms. Cynthia Johnson

SVP Cheif Marketing Director

Widgets R U, Inc.

Re: 2004 Citrus Client Survey

Dear Cynthia,

Every year Citrus asks its clients if they would fill out a multi-question agency evaluation form. This evaluation process helps us to know if we are providing the level of service our clients expect and need. The survey also asks if there are any additional agency services that Widgets might want us to provide in the future. We have used the input of our clients in the past to modify our service offering, when required.

This year, we are going to take a different approach from the multi-question survey we have used in years past. In 2004 we are only going to ask one question:

“How likely is it that you would recommend Citrus to a friend or colleague?”

We are basing this question on research findings reported in the Harvard Business Review article “The One Number You Need to grow.” This very interesting article suggests that there is one simple question that can provide much of what a company needs to know about how its customers perceive its services. As the article states, “You simply need to know what your customers tell their friends about you.” The HBR article is attached for your information.

Please take a couple of minutes and help us help you by completing the enclosed survey. Our goal is to keep building a better agency for all of our clients.

If you have any questions give me a call. As always, your answers are considered confidential and will only be shared with agency management.

Thank you for your time.



It Worked

The letter and Net Promotor question told our clients that we were interested in knowing how they rate our services; that we are smart enough to know about things like Net Promoter Scores and that we, as I stated earlier, like to be referred.

Give me a call if you need more business building insights for your agency. As you can see, smart business development tactics include how you talk with your current clients. There is gold in them thar relationships.




Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.