What a great idea – use only one research number to represent how your business is doing. This is, of course, the concept behind the “ultimate question” which simply asks on an 11-point scale (0 to 11) how likely you would be to recommend [company/brand in question]? The analysis is equally simply: give yourself +1 for each 8-10; 0 for each 6-7 and -1 for 5s and lower. This system, developed by Fred Reichold of Bain, is an intuitive’s (Myers-Briggs reference) dream, because you can index the numbers on 100 and have a single indicator of your company’s/brand’s health – a so-called Net Promoter Score.
This is surely an elegant solution to the complexity of any system that has more than one measure in it (i.e., the problem with using more than one watch). Many companies swear by it, and there is certainly some logic behind it. However, I have yet to find a client that has used it well except as a simple measuring stick – if it goes up you are rewarded and the opposite if it goes down. Simple, but only helpful if you know the levers (i.e., what drives it up and down) and if you are in a business where referrals are really impactful.
What the ultimate question raises is whether you know what drives your customers to buy (and then to re-buy) your product. If you don’t know that, then it really doesn’t matter what you measure and, in that case, one meaningless question is probably better than several.