Endless Surveys versus The Ultimate Question

During my last vacation I stayed at the Holiday Inn Grand Canyon (surprisingly nice, by the way!).  When I got back, I got a couple of emails asking me to fill out a survey.  I’m a nice guy, so I complied.  Page 1, 8 questions.  Then page 2, page 3, page 4 … question after question … my eyes are glazing over, guys.

In his book The Ultimate Question, author Fred Reichheld states that the only truly important question was whether my product or service was good enough to lead you to recommend me to a friend.  Now arguably a complex service such as hospitality needs a little more granularity (quality of lodging/quality of service/quality of food, for instance) – but surely a 15 page survey (I’m not kidding) is overkill – isn’t it?

I asked the question, “What is the optimal length of a customer satisfaction survey?”  on LinkedIn – we’ll see what the networkers on that site report.

Elevator pitches – not just for entrepreneurs

I got a pitch in today’s mail for the American Express Gold Card.  Now I already have the Blue Cash card from Amex,  so why are they pitching me?  “Because you’re such a valued customer, we’re offering you the opportunity to upgrade.”  So what exactly does this upgrade look like?   At first glance, it looks like  $150 a year.

But I’m always keen to talk about money, so I call and tell them my situation.   I have your Blue Cash card.  It’s free, and I get hundreds of dollars in cash rewards every year.  So why would I want to pay another $150 a year for a gold card?  The nice woman on the phone said,
“I see your point.  I guess you wouldn’t.”

Well you could have knocked me over with a Discover card.  I was flabbergasted.

“The people who have it really like it, but it may not make sense for you.”

Okay then!   I guess we’re done here.   Is the argument for the Amex Gold Card actually that weak, or did I get her at a bad time?  I guess I’ll never know.


  • Are you listening to other peoples’ sales pitches to improve your own?
  • Do you fold like a napkin at the slightest hint of sales resistance, or are you ready with your arguments?
  • How would you have made this sale?   I took the time to call and could have been convinced by a compelling presentation.  Could you have saved the sale?

Calacanis on leadership and purpose

Just finished Jason Calacanis’ analysis of the Monitor110 failure. The part I liked best was his description of the CEO’s role in determining the core purpose of the enterprise:

If you can’t tell me the purpose of your company in one sentence
you’re screwed. As an exercise, I like to write sentences to summarize
the purpose of other people’s companies.

— Microsoft makes software that makes people productive.
— Google makes the most effective and easy to use advertising
platform in the world (you thought they were a search company?).
— DIGG makes a never-ending list of fascinating stories for people.
— YouTube provides the largest and most diverse library of videos on
the planet.
— Twitter enables platform-independent communications.
— ESPN provides sports information and entertainment.
— Apple makes technology products that work beautifully and look beautiful.
— Mahalo helps people find information they can trust.
— Coca-Cola provides beverages that people like to drink.
— Southwest provides cheap flights.
— TIVO makes watching TV easier.

So I thought, “what does That Software Guy do?”

“That Software Guy makes your online operation more profitable.”

That’ll do.