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NPS Detractors: How to Convert Them Into Promoters

Parvathi Vijayamohan

Last Updated:  

6 June 2024

10 min read

Customer feedback comes in all shapes and sizes, and they’re not always pleasant to hear. But the feedback you get from an NPS detractor can turn out to be a hidden goldmine.

It’s tempting to ignore dissatisfied customers. But the unique opportunities that they offer for growth are something that you don’t want to miss out on.

After all, 86% of detractors engage in negative word of mouth online. That’s a huge opportunity right there! By understanding their frustrations and addressing their concerns, you can turn them into loyal promoters who champion your brand.

Let’s explore:

What is a Detractor in NPS?

An NPS detractor is any customer who gives a low score – typically between 0-6 – on the Net Promoter® Score survey.

If you’re unfamiliar with the NPS® survey, it asks a single question: “How likely are you to recommend [your company/product/service] to a [friend/ colleague/ family]?” on a scale of 0 (not at all likely) to 10 (extremely likely). The number they choose is the NPS® score.

Detractors are essentially customers who wouldn’t recommend your business and might even discourage others from using it. Because of this, they can provide valuable insights into how to improve your products and services.

How to Identify Your NPS Detractors?

Identifying your Net Promoter® Score (NPS) detractors is a straightforward process that involves collecting and analyzing customer feedback through the NPS survey. Here’s how you can identify your NPS detractors effectively:

Conduct an NPS Survey

Start by asking your customers the classic NPS question: “On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?”

This question is the foundation of the NPS system and is designed to gauge the customer’s loyalty to your brand. Here’s a free NPS survey template for you. Sign up and feel free to use it.

NPS Survey Template

Categorize the Responses

Once you’ve collected the responses, categorize your customers based on their ratings. If you are using tools like SurveySparrow, you can visualize the data with analytical charts. The following is a sneak peek at how it will look.


NPS survey UI in Surveysparrow
Alternate Way to Identify Detractors

We all know that CSAT and CES are crucial metrics for understanding customer experience. However, these metrics can also help you identify detractors. Here’s how they can be used.

CSAT: Gauging Satisfaction Levels

When Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores are low, it signals dissatisfaction among customers. This identifies them as potential detractors who could negatively impact the brand. By analyzing these results, businesses can precisely identify areas needing enhancement. This can be improving product quality or making service interactions more responsive.

CES: Understanding Effort in Experiences

Customer Effort Score (CES) operates under the assumption that less effort translates to higher satisfaction. Therefore, higher CES scores indicate experiences that require significant customer effort. This shows potential detractors. Insights from CES scores can help simplify customer interactions, enhancing overall satisfaction.

And that’s it.

But identifying your detractors is just the first step. You need to understand why these customers are dissatisfied to improve your NPS. Analyze their feedback for common themes and issues. This could be done through follow-up questions in the survey or through direct outreach to those who have given low scores.

Use the insights gained from detractor feedback to make targeted improvements to your products, services, or customer experience. This can help reduce the number of detractors and potentially convert some into promoters or passives.

So, how can you turn detractors into promoters? Let’s have a look.

7 Strategies to Turn NPS Detractors into Promoters

Unlike NPS passives, NPS detractors have strong opinions about your brand and are not afraid to express them! However, the opposite is also true. By addressing their concerns, your detractors can become some of your most passionate and loyal supporters.

Pro Tip: Choosing the right NPS tool is the first step. If you are looking for one – here are the top NPS tools available in the market. Select the right one for you.

Here are 10 proven tactics you can use to turn negative experiences into positive ones.

1. Encourage Your Customers To Give Feedback

Companies often forget to collect customer feedback, and at other times, they are too scared of the results. Just because there isn’t any negative feedback doesn’t mean your products are all good. You haven’t found the customers who are dissatisfied with the products.

Try collecting feedback through a less irritating channel. Instead of pestering them with long, boring questions and a form that takes years to load, rely on good survey software. Forward the survey forms at appropriate touch points and seriously consider the reviews.

The more you are enthusiastic about what customer thinks, the more they feel valued.

Consider customer satisfaction surveys a need for your business, and don’t conduct them just for your namesake. With perfectly targeted questions, you can easily understand the areas where you fail to impact your customers and then act on them to improve your services.

2. Be Active And Respond Immediately

Whenever you receive a complaint, respond to it as quickly as possible. Never let the customer wait. Even if it’s an email or a comment on your social media channels, ask the representatives to take quick action by connecting with the customers and attending to their needs.

Customers would like to get some attention and feel great when their efforts find fruit. So don’t let the comment sit unanswered on your social media platform for hours. Remember, the world is watching. If you fail to tend to the angry customer, you will quickly lose a customer and gain a negative reputation.

At times, the representatives may not be able to tackle the issue.

Say it’s a technical issue. The representatives may not be well versed in the queries or problems the customer is facing. In that case, let the customer know you have looped in the product developers and promise them a deadline.

3. Be Empathetic: Don’t Always Rely On Chatbots

It’s great to have chatbots or VoIP phone service on your website! However, when a customer is desperate and needs immediate answers, the pre-recorded messages will not do any good.

Be empathetic and always have a human touch to your conversations with them. Let the customers know if your representatives aren’t available during a particular time. Ask them to leave a message and promise that your representatives will get back in touch as soon as they are available.

4. Accept The Mistake And Evolve

Never commit a mistake twice. For example, if a customer contacts you with some glitch in your software, ensure that future customers don’t experience the same.

The software keeps on crashing!

There’s some glitch in the software I can’t complete my payment. The app closes automatically!

The crux of both these comments is the same. Think how much harm it can cause your brand if these messages or different variants keep accumulating on your social media channels.

The surveys you conducted open up a plethora of ways in which you can better your services. However, all your efforts go to waste if you aren’t keen enough to look into your customers’ queries.

5. Deliver The Promises You Make

Never make promises you can’t deliver!

Stay true to your word and never give your customers false hopes. Those NPS detractors are already agitated; you don’t want to warm up them more.

If you promised the issue would be solved in two days, try to stick to it. If not, let the customers know you require time and share your progress. This way, they would see that you are taking some action and valuing their opinion.

6. Refine Customer Service Continuously

Did you know that 70% of the customer will return if their problems are resolved?

Therefore, it’s only logical to invest in customer service training programs for empathy, problem-solving, and active listening. Also use customer service analytics software to collect data from various touchpoints – such as messages, purchases, survey feedback, returns, and demographics.

Track metrics like:

  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT)
  • First Response Time (FRT)
  • Total Time to Resolution (TTR)
  • Customer Effort Score (CES)
  • Customer Churn Rate (CCR)

These metrics can help you understand your team’s performance and identify areas for improvement.

Customer service interactions become more positive and efficient. The result? Increased satisfaction and loyalty.

7. Identify and Address Common Complaints

By using sentiment analysis tools, you can spot common concerns that come up often. This helps find bigger issues that might be making a lot of customers unhappy.
With this knowledge, solutions can be created to stop these problems from happening again.

This process shows customers that the company cares about improving their experience and is actively working to fix any issues before they occur again.

NPS detractor: sentiment analysis on SurveySparrow
Sentiment analysis on SurveySparrow

Why Should You Turn NPS Detractors into Promotors?

Turning NPS detractors into promoters is crucial and offers tangible benefits. Let’s break it down in a way that feels a bit more like we’re chatting over coffee:

1. Reduce Negative Word-of-Mouth

Detractors are more likely to share their bad experiences than promoters are to share their good ones. On average, Americans tell twice as many people about poor experiences than they do about good ones.

By converting detractors into promoters, you mitigate the risk of negative word-of-mouth. As a result, you protect your brand’s reputation and potentially increase sales through positive impressions.

2. Increase Customer Retention

A significant percentage of unhappy customers will not do business with a brand again after a bad experience.

By addressing the concerns of detractors and turning them into promoters, you not only retain customers but also avoid the high costs associated with acquiring new ones. This strategy helps maintain a stable revenue base and improves the customer lifetime value.

3. Avoid Losses Due to Early Churn

The cost of acquiring a new customer (CAC) is substantial for most businesses. If a customer churns before you’ve recouped this investment, you incur a loss. Encouraging detractors to stay longer can mitigate this risk and improve profitability.

By making them stay longer, you can even convert them to annual plans or through other retention strategies.

4. Gain Competitive Advantage

Imagine a customer review like the following for your brand.

[Your product name] is one of the worst I have encountered; [Your Competitor’s name] is a far better choice.

This will increase your competitor’s profits but also boost their brand image at your expense. Therefore, you should convert detractors as soon as possible to prevent competitors from capitalizing on your dissatisfied customers.

5. Leverage Valuable Feedback

Detractors often provide the most honest and direct feedback. They highlight key areas where your product or service needs improvement. So, by addressing these issues, you can enhance your offering and improve customer satisfaction. This feedback loop is essential for continuous improvement and innovation.

6. Build a Positive Brand Image

Turning detractors into promoters can significantly enhance your brand’s image. Satisfied customers are likely to share their positive experiences, acting as brand advocates. This organic promotion is highly effective and can lead to increased trust and credibility among potential customers.

7. Increase Sales and Revenue

Word-of-mouth is still one of the best marketing channels. Moreover, it has a greater impact on sales than any paid media services.

Detractors can be more vocal than promoters, meaning more negative word-of-mouth. This can only hurt your business. So, give priority to detractors and do everything in your power to convert them into promoters.

8. Competitive Edge

In a world where customers are bombarded with choices, your ability to listen, adapt, and improve based on customer feedback can set you apart. It’s not just about having a superior product anymore. It’s about your superior experience. Turning detractors into promoters shows you’re a brand that cares and listens, giving you a competitive edge.

So, there you have it. Working on converting your detractors isn’t just about damage control; it’s a strategic move that can enhance your brand’s reputation, improve your offerings, reduce churn, and drive your business’s financial health.

Plus, it’s just good karma. Who doesn’t love a comeback story, especially when it’s about someone turning their less-than-stellar experience into a reason to sing your praises?

Ok, So here’s the deal…

Looking to turn those frowns upside down? Say hello to SurveySparrow, your go-to NPS tool for flipping detractors into your biggest fans. With our super engaging surveys and sharp analytics, you’re not just collecting feedback; you’re having a heart-to-heart with your customers.

So, let’s chat and understand what ticks them off and, more importantly, how we can make it right. Together with SurveySparrow, let’s make every piece of feedback your secret weapon to winning hearts and driving growth. Ready to transform your customer experience from meh to wow?

Here’s an example to help you understand the importance.

Consider Zola – a platform that provides a complete suite of wedding planning tools, venues, and vendors. 

NPS detractor example: Zola

Most startups would seek out enthusiastic users of their products. Not Zola. In fact, thanks to their detractors, they were able to boost their NPS scores by 50%. And they did it with five key insights:

  1. Early detractors are early adopters.
  2. Follow the two Ms – monthly and milestone – in your NPS survey outreach.
  3. Sort the feedback into themes.
  4. Take action according to the theme, and close the feedback loop.
  5. Patiently get them to ‘Yes’. 

You can check out the full case study on First Round Review

“It’s tempting to listen to all the good stuff you get in your NPS surveys. But we know we’ve learned a lot more by being very focused on the not-so-good comments.”

– Shan-Lyn Ma, Zola’s CEO and founder

5 Types of NPS Detractors

For improving customer satisfaction and experience, understanding customer issues is crucial. This will help craft your outreach strategy.

Sorting your NPS detractors by type is one way to simplify this process.

Infographic created via Genially

Wrapping Up

Overall, having an NPS detractor in your business can actually be great for your business. By paying attention to customer feedback and understanding their issues from detractors, you can create more effective strategies for improvement. 

Through proactive customer service tactics and problem-solving initiatives, it is possible to turn a detractor into a promoter. The key is to listen attentively to the needs of customers while acting on any complaints they have. Ultimately, this will help you improve customer experience with better services that make them feel valued as part of your brand’s community. 

FAQs on NPS Detractors

1. Why Is 6 Considered a Detractor for NPS?

In NPS, scores from 0 to 6 categorize customers as detractors. This is primarily because they are unlikely to recommend the product or service to others. They even discourage others from buying based on their negative experiences.

2. Should I be worried if I have a lot of NPS detractors?

According to Retently, some industries tend to have a lower NPS score like health insurance and media. So, focusing solely on the number isn’t ideal. Look at trends over time and track your detractor-to-promoter conversion rate to measure your progress.

The bottom line is to benchmark your NPS score. That will give you a clear idea.

3. How can I prevent NPS detractors in the first place?

Proactive customer service, clear communication, and exceeding customer expectations from the get-go. All of these can help prevent negative experiences. In addition, you need to regularly ask for customer feedback and use it to refine your offerings.

Disclaimer: Net Promoter®, NPS®, NPS Prism®, and the NPS-related emoticons are registered trademarks of Bain & Company, Inc., NICE Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld. Net Promoter ScoreSM and Net Promoter SystemSM are service marks of Bain & Company, Inc., NICE Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

Parvathi Vijayamohan

Growth Marketer at SurveySparrow

Fledgling growth marketer. Cloud watcher. Aunty to a naughty beagle.

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