NPS 101: Passives

In this post, we explore NPS Passives. This is Part 3 of 3 NPS 101 lessons we have published over the past few weeks. Please check out our earlier lessons on Detractors and 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 Passive? 

A Passive is a customer who gives a score of either 7 or 8. – Passives a perceived as not having a defined opinion on your brand so they can be difficult to analyse and understand. As a result, Passives are often ignored by adopters of NPS. Their neutrality and lack of loyalty make them less interesting than Detractors or Promoters, as they can be seen as either a liability or an asset to a brand’s growth. But ignoring Passives is a missed opportunity. 

There are a few mistaken assumptions that can be made about Passive customers. 

  • They don’t have strong feelings towards your brand. While Detractors feel strongly enough about a bad experience to tell you about it, Passives just don’t care. They aren’t passionate about your brand in one way or another so they won’t recommend you to anyone nor spread the word about a bad experience. You should really pay attention to passives as their indifference means that they can easily be swayed in one direction or another, so a single experience could turn them into Detractors or Promoters. 
  • They are likely to churn. Passives are more likely to churn within 6 months than other segments of customers and depending on your business model 20–30% of passives churn within 180 days. Just because they weren’t necessarily unhappy with the goods or services your brand provided to them, they also weren’t happy enough to stick around if another opportunity presented itself. 
  • They can often be price-conscious. Because Passives aren’t amazed by what you’re offering, they may think that it just isn’t worth the price. If a competitor is cheaper they may leave for them, or be more inclined to stay with you if your price lowers or you give them a deal. 

Learning from Passives

While in the short-term prioritising Detractors can be important, learning from your Passives can be an important part of revitalising and strengthening your customer experience programmes as a whole. 

Identify Potential Reasons for Churn

With Passives the reason for churning might not be as concrete as a Detractor, but the likelihood is still very much there. Have a look at what your competitors are offering that might entice one of your existing customers to leave. Do they have an aggressive pricing model? Do they offer additional features or services? Are they innovating better than you are? Consider what the pull of your competitors might be and do your best to keep up. Offer discounts if you can. Promote your own attributes that your competitors might be missing to your existing customers. Passives being tempted to leave can just as easily be tempted to stay, so offering them an incentive to stay may be all they need to not churn. 

Understand Where You Didn’t Wow Them

While a score of a 7 or 8 isn’t terrible, it does show a good amount of room for improvement. With Detractor feedback you can identify moments in which you clearly messed up and in Promoter feedback, you can see where you did a great job. While this information is really important to address your performance, Passives will teach you where you were average. Customers have exceedingly high expectations. Sometimes we don’t ask Passives to further expand upon their feedback, but it can be really useful to monitor where you’re not performing as well as you could. If a Passive realises that you made improvements based on their feedback, they can quickly be turned into a Promoter, becoming a more loyal and enthusiastic customer. If you want to compete and excel at customer experience, looking through comments left by passives can often be the source of differentiation needed to bring the experience you offer up a level 

Close the Loop and Say Thank You

This is actually advice extended from our lesson on Promoters. We often ignore Passives because there isn’t much urgency in addressing their feedback, but maybe they just feel underappreciated. Show your Passives a little love and make them feel like valued customers. Customers enjoy a bit of personal attention and personalisation and it isn’t difficult or expensive for you to offer this to them. Letting them know that they matter to your business will, in turn, strengthen their connection to your brand, moving them away from indifference and hopefully towards loyalty. Following up with them after they leave feedback can also be a tool to strengthen the bond as they probably don’t expect you to reach out, and showing them that you care will set you apart from competitors.