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Customer Experience

6 Industry Specialists share Tips to deal with Detractors while measuring Net Promoter Score®

May 23, 2023

While measuring Customer Loyalty with NPS®, you’d always get a few (or many) detractors. It’s unavoidable, but definitely hurtful. All businesses tend to have unhappy customers. And as much as we all may like to ignore them and look at the positives, we know it’s probably the most crucial to look at the detractors and resolve their issues. Researches suggest that the risk of customer churn increases by 15% just by not replying to the customer's issues and complaints.

Why bother? Firstly, it is less expensive to get business from existing customers than build new customer base. Did you know that it is around 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customers than retaining one. Secondly, remember that detractors don’t just stop doing business with you, but are also extremely likely to bad mouth your business and prevent others from doing business with you. Lastly, you can turn their effort of expressing their dissatisfaction with your company as an opportunity to improve their experience and actually turn them into promoters.

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What are NPS® Detractors?

Detractors are the unhappy or dissatisfied customers that are not likely to recommend your product, services or brand to anybody. In fact, they are likely to share their regret with their friends and family.

While measuring your Net Promoter Score® by asking your customers to give the ratings from 0 to 10 as per their likeliness to recommend your business to others, the respondents rating 0 to 6 are considered as detractors. Detractors play a major role in the calculation of your Net Promoter Score®.

NPS® Calculation is done by percentage of detractors is subtracted from the percentage of promoters which gives you a numeric score ranging from -100 to 100.

It is well known fact that detractors are louder than promoters and they have a strong tendency to share their feelings or disappointment with their peers, friends and relatives. This can be really harmful for your business and needs your immediate attention.

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What do Industry Experts Suggest about dealing with Detractors?

It's not only you who get detractors. Numbers may vary but every business have some detractors. All you need to do is, keep calm and focus on your next actions. "How do you deal with detractors while measuring Net Promoter Score?" We asked this question from some industry specialists and got good and interesting replies.

Here are some key ideas practiced and shared by some industry experts and experienced professionals to deal effectively with detractors. Let's explore what they do when they get detractors.

Tips by Industry Experts to Deal with Detractors

  1. Gather their thoughts, reach them and listen to them
  2. Respond to them immediately
  3. Figure out the exact issue, and solve it
  4. Take complaints seriously, calm them down
  5. Avoid combating negative responses or becoming over-defensive
  6. Establish strong communication to earn customers' trust

Here are some more details of their ideas of dealing with detractors.

1. Gather their thoughts, reach them and listen to them

When we receive negative responses to customer satisfaction surveys, we always start by collecting feedback. - Dan Bailey

Whenever you get a bad rating on your NPS survey, always ask the reason for such score. This will help you collect the customers' thoughts and take corrective action accordingly.

Dan Bailey, the President of WikilLawn Los Angeles Lawn Care suggests that whenever his company gets a negative response to any Customer Satisfaction survey, the company asks for the open-ended feedback about the reason for such score through a pop-up box. Then, if customers allow, they are contacted by a customer service representative who spends a good time to gather their thoughts about the experience they had and the end goal is to resolve issues with the customers and bring them back.

For this purpose, they are offered for something for free to give the service a second chance. If the customers are still unsatisfied, they are sent another request for feedback through email and also given a chance to speak with a CSR again in order to get more of customer insights. This can clearly show how important is to collect real customer insights.

2. Respond to them immediately

Detractors are a great way to determine what weaknesses your business has, and by neutralizing detractors is the only way to maintain your promoter score. There are numerous ways this can be accomplished, but hitting it head on by responding to detractors is the most efficient way. - James Boatwrite

When customers complaint, they expect a response. 52% of customers expect to hear back from brands within 7 days of giving an online review, particularly one that's negative or critical.

According to James Boatwright, CEO of Code galaxy, detractors are a great way to determine about the weaknesses of your business and work on them. He suggests that the most effective way to deal with the detractors is to respond to their feedback immediately. So without taking any undue stress about the NPS rating or negative feedback you have received, take a proactive approach to respond to the detractors and do what you can to improve their experience.

3. Figure out the exact issue, and solve it

It's most important to us to figure out the exact issue. Detractors aren't usually being spiteful, though occasionally we'll get one or two people who are just looking for a chance to lower our score. - Rex Freiberger

When customers give a bad rating, there is always some issue behind it. It may be bad Customer Experience, customers being unhappy with the service, or some other issue or complication.

Rex Freibberger, the President of Music Minds strongly suggests to figure out the exact issue. In his company Music Minds, customers are asked as many questions as possible to find out the exact thing that they disliked and which made them choose a negative feedback. This involves an easy to fill automatic form as well as direct contact with the customers.

Even if the exact issue comes out to be that the customers are wrong at their own part, the company tries to make things better for them as far as possible.

4. Take complaints seriously, calm them down

We heal with detractors head on. We take their complaints seriously and try to calm them at every turn. In doing so I think we are able to retain customers we may have lost to their bad reviews. - Ravi Parikh

Collecting Customer Feedback or NPS responses is useless if you do not take it seriously. And customers do realize this very well whether you are taking them seriously or not. After all, you actions tell them.

Ravi Parikh from RoverPass, tells that his company takes the detractors and their complaints very seriously and they try to calm the customers down. This helps a lot in retaining the miffed customers.

5. Avoid combating negative responses or becoming over-defensive

The worst thing you can do is respond defensively. You need to put thought into your response, even if the eventual move you go with is to not respond at all. - Jake Hill

Customers' ratings and comments may hurt you, but you must never try to combat response or be defensive. This will only do more harm than good.

According to Jake Hill, CEO of DebtHammer, even not responding at the moment is better than responding defensively. In his company DebtHammer, their approach is to make the things right and better for the customers. This is usually done by offering the customers one-on-one chat with a Customer Service Representative so as to figure out what went wrong.

Moreover, Jake thinks it to be a wrong way to offer a discount on the next deal as the detractors are so much frustrated and are feeling that their money is not utilized properly, so why would they spend more money on your brand!

6. Establish strong communication to earn customers' trust

We realize that when there's not enough communication to earn their trust, they won't be eager to rate us higher on the NPS surveys. - Matt Rostosky

A good communication with the customers is necessary to build a good customer relationship. Lack of effective communication increases the distance between you and your customers, whereas a good communication builds a bridge between the two.

Matt Rostosky, the owner of says that their first approach for dealing with detractors is to send them follow-up questions to probe more into their issues with the service provided. By uncovering different answers from them and developing a good communication, they got to know that many times it's the customers' personal frustrations also that can result in a bad NPS rating.

So if you want to improve your NPS, try to build customers' trust by developing a strong communication with them and build a good relationship with the customers.

By following a good approach to deal with detractors, you can certainly improve Customer Experience and enhance Customer Satisfaction to the extent that you will be able to even convert your detractors into promoters.

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Learn more about the Net Promoter Score (NPS)

Nikhil Dawer

Written by Nikhil Dawer

Jan 12, 2021

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