NPS 101: Detractors

In this post, we explore NPS Detractors. This is Part 2 of 3 NPS 101 lessons we will be continuing to publish over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for a follow-up lesson on Passives and check out our post on Promoters

What is NPS? 

NPS (Net Promoter Score) is a customer satisfaction benchmark that measures how likely your customers are to recommend your business to a friend. It is a measurement used to evaluate customer loyalty too. It differs from CSAT (customer satisfaction) or CES (customer effort) metrics in that it measures a customer’s overall sentiment about a brand, rather than their attitude towards a specific interaction.

NPS is simply calculated based on the question – “On a scale of 0-10, how likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend?” And the results determine if a customer is a Promoter, Passive or Detractor. 

What is a Detractor?

A detractor is a customer who gives a score from 0 to 6. These are your unhappy customers who have the potential to damage your company’s reputation or growth via negative word-of-mouth and they are the customers least likely to continue spending with your business. What an NPS score tells us, rather than a CSAT score, is that these customers aren’t simply “unsatisfied” with their experience; these customers would recommend against your brand, which can be very damaging. Detractors tend to receive the most attention when we discuss NPS because they are the biggest risk to your brand and require the most work.

While you can learn a lot about what you are doing right from Promoters, you will receive the most actionable and correctable feedback from your Detractors. The insights gained from individual Detractors can be critical, as only 1 in 26 unhappy customers actually complain. 

Detractors usually fit into one of four categories outlined below: 

  • Customers who have already decided to churn and want to let you know why.
  • Customers who are frustrated with your service and actively considering alternatives, but haven’t officially decided to churn yet.
  • Customers who are unhappy with a specific service, product or interaction, but hope to help you improve it rather than leave. 
  • Customers who rely on your product or service and aren’t considering switching to an alternative but want to voice their complaint or concern.

While not much can be done about the first category of Detractor as they are already out the door, the other three aren’t necessarily in a rush to end their relationship with you, so you should do your best to retain their business. If a customer had a horrible experience which led to their negative feedback but had a really positive experience when you closed the loop and handled their complaint, they are more likely to switch from Detractor to Promoter. 

Dealing with Detractors

Be Quick to Respond

It’s important to be proactive and quick when responding to Detractors. If too much time passes it will seem that their feedback isn’t a priority for you and they may have already decided to switch to a competitor. If you’re quick to follow up with them on their negative feedback, it shows that addressing customer concerns is important to your business and it can potentially minimise any reputational damage. This may mean automating a message acknowledging the negative feedback upon its submission and letting them know that someone will be following up with them as soon as possible. 

Show Empathy

Be apologetic and show empathy when communicating with Detractors. Saying sorry goes a long way. Even if you do not agree with the customer’s complaint, expressing contrition shows that you are genuinely invested in their experience. But be smart about how you say sorry, saying “I’m sorry you felt that the service was inadequate” does not come across as a genuine apology. You should rather say, “I’m sorry your experience did not meet our high standard of service,” which shows that you care and are accepting responsibility.

It can also help to show appreciation for their feedback. Just as you thank Promoters for giving positive feedback, you should thank your Detractor customers for their feedback as well. Even if their comment may not warrant traditional gratitude, you are gaining some sort of insight from their complaint and it can help your business. Something as simple as, “Thank you for your feedback” can make all of the difference to the tone of your response. It shows that you are listening and that you care. 

Action Negative Feedback

Learn from the mistakes displayed in Detractor comments and action them. Sometimes an apology is enough, but in serious cases, you may need to back up your apology with some concrete action. Let the customer know how you will be addressing the problem so that it does not happen again. And when you have taken the appropriate steps to correct the problem, inform them of the results. In this way, you will have fully “closed the loop” which is a sign of excellent customer service. This may persuade the customer to return to your business if they believe that their feedback was helpful and that you are striving not to make the same mistake again.