The books covered in this blog post are new methodologies on how to think about yourself and your customers. I learned about these two books while working at Rackspace and they are embedded into the backbone of the Rackspace business framework. As I encounter more and more companies that use them I can't help but sing their praises and I firmly believe that these are the lenses you need to be viewing the world through. Lets start shall we?
 
 

 


 
Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
This book is brought to you by the Gallup Organization and is the successor to Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham. The basic premise of the book is that everyone has certain strengths that are completely unique to you and most of the time very different from the guy or gal sitting next to you. This methodology is 180 degree turn from the Jack Welch system that teaches it's leaders to continually manage out the bottom 10% of their organization. When applied appropriately strengths based companies place people in the right roles based on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. 

For example, while working at Rackspace I spent two of my ten years working in their UK headquarters. Five months of those two years working as an inbound sales representative. I was only there because a good friend of mine pressured me into doing sales for him because he had headcount to fill but that is another story. Most of my Rackspace tenure was spent in customer support because it is where most of my strengths pointed me. I liked winning customers over, solving their problems, and building long lasting relationships. In sales I was a complete flop. I didn't have the competitive drive that all the other guys seemed to have or the killer instinct. After five months of utter failure the sales director had mercy and moved me back to where I was the most successful; in customer support. He took one look at my strengths and said, "What are you doing in sales??"


Get the book and in the back there is a code for an online assessment. Take the test and it will email you your top five strengths. When you read them you are going to be alarmingly surprised as to just how accurate they are. It will actually help you understand why you are the kind of person that for example collects things, make lists, and look into the past constantly for information. As soon as my wife and I started dating I made her take the test. Yes, it's that important! 

 


 

 
The Ultimate Question: Driving Good Profits and True Growth by Fred Reichheld
The customer review methodology that this book describes is known as NPS. NPS stands for Net Promoter System. The survey is based on two simple questions. 

How likely are you to recommend our services to a friend or colleague? Why?

That is it. The true power of this question is that psychologically you don’t know it but you are literally putting your reputation on the line when you answer it. Therefore, you are not going to recommend something crappy to your friends because it makes you look bad. 

The question itself is answered on a scale of 0-10. Anyone that scores 0-6 is a “detractor” who is actively telling people how bad you stink. Anyone that is a 7 or 8 is “passive.” A passive person neither loves you nor hates you. They are completely indifferent. The only problem is that they have no loyalty and will jump ship as soon as someone comes along with something better to offer. In the business world this is often most easily executed in the form of a competitor with a cheaper product. Lastly, anyone that is a 9 or 10 is a “promoter.” Promoters are people that you should be paying to do sales for you but you are not. They are proactively singing your praises to anyone that will listen. 

The potency of this system is so great that I am only going to give you one example of a company that uses it. There are of course many companies that live and die by this but this one shows us how innovative companies use innovative techniques to achieve greatness. The company is Apple

There is a big myth that Apple just does whatever it wants and doesn't listen to their customers but that couldn't be further form the truth. Apple uses the NPS methodology the same way I was trained to use it at Rackspace. Read the below article for particulars on how they do it. 

Apple NPS Article
 
Why am I writing about this? If you are a charity or a nonprofit you need to be using this system. Use it for your donors, for your employees, your board of directors, and even use it for the people you are helping. This system will lead you to the cracks in your system and to the gold at the end of the rainbow. 

Find out what you and your organization are good at. Learn what your strengths are and then use the NPS system to continually improve on how you are changing your corner of the world. 

Feedback on Strengths or NPS? We would love to hear it!