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Turn NPS Passives into Promoters: Top 5 Ways in 2023


3 January 2023

6 min read

You’ve probably come across the term NPS passives before. But it hasn’t meant much to you until now. You’ve been more focused on leveraging your promoters and detractors to grow your business.

And sure, your reasons are valid and obvious. Stop the angry, disappointed customers from leaving your business and get your happy customers to promote your brand.

But what about your passive customers that make up a significant portion of your customer base?

Most businesses often neglect this group of people. One main reason is you do not include passive customers while calculating the NPS score. And since they’re focused on the score itself, it’s easy to ignore this customer segment.

This would be a sadly lost opportunity at a time when retaining customers is far more important than acquiring new customers.

In this article, we’ll explain who passive customers are, the NPS scoring system, why it’s critical to focus on this group of customers and the different ways to turn your passive customers into promoters. Ready? Let’s dive in.

What is Net Promoter Score? NPS Scoring System Explained

Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a metric that indicates the likelihood of a customer promoting and advocating your business.

You can measure it by asking this simple question: “How likely are you to recommend us to your friends or colleagues”

Based on their score, you group them into the following categories:

  • Promoters (score 9 or 10)
  • Passives (score 7 or 8)
  • Detractors (score 0 to 6)

Who are NPS Passives?

Passives are your customers who gave you a score of 7 or 8. Passives have neutral feelings about your product or service.

They are not dissatisfied with your product and actually might like it. But they are not satisfied or enthusiastic enough to recommend it to others.

They might continue to use your product. But they’re vulnerable to competitive offerings and will shift to a competitor product if they think it’s a better deal.

The good news is that your passive customers can often be turned into your promoters with some small improvements or fixes to your product or service. This process is simpler if you have a ticketing software embedded in your feedback system, like SurveySparrow’s Case Management.

You can sign up below to try all of SurveySparrow’s features FREE for 14 days.


Why You Need to Focus on Your NPS Passives

You’re missing out big time if you aren’t leveraging your passive customers. Here are some reasons why you need to make the effort to turn your NPS passives into your promoters.

#1. Passives Are More Likely to Churn

Passives are open to alternatives. Your product just happens to be one of the tools that’s available to them. They’ve got plenty of alternatives to get their job done.

On top of that, they’ve had a neutral experience with your brand and thus have neutral feelings associated with your product. They’re indifferent to your product and lack strong feelings for it.

This indifference makes them more likely to leave than your detractors. Passives will shift to a competitor at the slightest opportunity.

According to ChurnZero, “Passives have no problem switching to a different brand if the price or offering is even just slightly better.”

In another study done by HBR, 20% of passives indicated they were ready to leave while 28% of detractors expressed interest in staying.

They’ll easily switch to a competitor if they offer a slightly better deal, price, or product.

#2. Passives Make Up for a Big Portion of Your Customer Segment

When you ignore the passives, you’re overlooking a large portion of your target market that’s most likely to churn

Let’s say 50% of your customers are your promoters and 20% are detractors—that means the rest of the 30% are your passive customers that are ready to leave you!

You can’t afford to not address this group of customers. It takes much less effort and money to retain your existing customers than to acquire new customers.

#3. Passives Are Not Passionate About Your Product

Unlike your detractors, your passives are not passionate enough about your product to voice their opinions.

Your detractors care enough about your product to be vocal about it. They’re vocal about your product because they have strong feelings for your product.

Passives, on the other hand, just don’t care. Your product is just like any other product out there. They see little or no difference between your product and other products in the market.

This is why they are much less engaged with your product or business than your promoters or detractors.

#4. It Takes Much Less Effort to Turn Them into Promoters

Passives are customers who scored you 7 or 8.

That’s close to a score of 9 or 10 that makes your customers your promoters.

Passives think that your product is good but not good enough to deserve a score of 9 or 10.

This means the amount of effort to convert them into your promoters is much less than what it would take to convert even your least angry detractors.

We’ll show you the different ways you can turn your passives into promoters later in the article.

#5. Passives Are Price Sensitive

Since your passives don’t see much difference between your product and your competitors’ product, price becomes a huge factor when deciding which product to stay with or switch to.

Therefore, the most important thing you can do is to get their thoughts on your product’s pricing.

Do they feel that the price they pay exceeds the value they get? Do they think that your product is worth the price?

The key question you need to ask yourself is: What could I do to increase our product’s perceived value?

5 Ways to Turn Passives into Promoters in 2023

Below, we show you some top ways you can turn your passive customers into promoters in 2023.

Keep the Communication Open and Transparent

Passives aren’t as interested in your product as you think they are. You should avoid sounding neutral to this group of your customers.

If your message is generic, your passives will ignore it. A message that’s not direct and transparent might come off as shallow and insincere.

Your passives need to know that you are serious about their concerns and are genuinely interested in solving their problems.

You need to reach out to them and ask them direct questions that would help you improve their experience with your product or service. Ask them how you can help and what they’d like to see in your product or service.

Question them about the unique needs they’re looking to solve with your product and how you can better serve those needs.

Ask More Follow Up Questions (If Needed)

Your passives might be using your product out of sheer necessity. They could be seldom using your product and using it along with many other alternative solutions in the market.

Due to the above reasons, it’s easy for passive customers to completely ignore a generic question such as what is the reason for your score?

Questions like the one above might be taken lightly and totally neglected by your passive customers. It would pay to follow up until you get the answers you seek from your passive customers.

Here are some open-ended questions you can ask your passive customers:

  • Why would you not recommend us?
  • What was missing or disappointing in your experience with us?
  • What is the one thing we could do to make you happier with our product?

Understand Where You Failed to Delight Them

While passives might not seem as important as your detractors, you can gain useful insights from your passives that you can use to improve your product.

Since your passive customers gave you a score that’s quite close to a promoter’s score, it really shouldn’t take much effort to turn them into promoters. Just a small improvement or two might keep a passive from becoming your promoter.

For instance, a new feature might be all that they need. They might make a feature request to solve their unique problem with your product.

In some cases, you might probably only have to make a minor tweak to an existing feature.

Identify the Potential Reasons for Churn

Your NPS passives are vulnerable to better deals from your competitors. So you need to be watchful of what your competitors offer to lure your customers away from you.

You need to analyze your competitors quite frequently and figure out the reasons that might lead to churn. Here are some reasons you need to be aware of:

  • Aggressive pricing and discounts from your competitors.
  • New features from your competitor products that might interest your passive customers.
  • Bad customer service that involves inconveniences such as delay in response, low problem resolution time, etc.

Increase the Perceived Value of Your Product

Your passives think that there’s nothing unique about your offering. They think they have nothing to lose if they were to switch to a competitor’s product.

They even think they could probably get more value from other products on the market.

You need to show them that your product is different and more valuable than the competing products.

Here are some ways to do that:

  • Recommending certain products or features based on their unique needs.
  • Personalizing their experience within your product.
  • Keeping your customers up-to-date on the latest news and features.
  • Solving a specific problem that they are experiencing.

Final thoughts

You’d be able to grow your business much faster if you focused on turning your passive customers into your promoters.

When you focus on your NPS passives, you can prevent the majority of your current customer base from switching to other products.

Focused on retaining your customers? Check out our article on how to turn your detractors into promoters.

Got any questions on turning your NPS passives into promoters? Any interesting tips or techniques you use to convert your passives into promoters? Let us know about them in the comment section below. Looking to conduct effective NPS surveys that your customers will love answering? Feel free to check out SurveySparrow.


I'm a developer turned marketer, working as a Product Marketer at SurveySparrow — A survey tool that lets anyone create beautiful, conversational surveys people love to answer.


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