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What are NPS® Passives and how to turn Passives into Promoters?

Most discussion about Net Promoter Score® focuses on Detractors and Promoters - to pay attention to Detractors and prevent them from churning and to leverage the promoters to promote your brand. In this, most businesses tend to ignore or neglect the third and very important segment of NPS - the Passives.

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NPS by Segment

Net Promoter Score (NPS) can be measured by asking the standard NPS Question: How likely is it that you would recommend [Organization/Product/Service] to a friend or colleague? Here customers are provided with a scale from 0-10 to answer this question. They can rate their likelihood to recommend your products, services, or business on this NPS scale. Based on the responses, the NPS audience is categorized into 3 segments:

  1. Detractors

    Customers who rate their likelihood of recommending your product, service, or company as a 0-6 out of 10 are Detractors. They are unhappy and dissatisfied with the products and services you are providing them. If detractors find no response from your side on their feedback, they are likely to switch to a competitor and churn out of your business. Your detractors will not only leave your business but also spread negative word of mouth feedback that adversely impact your business growth.

    But the positive thing about the detractors is that there is a scope to turn them into promoters. According to the Study by LiveChat, 95% of NPS detractors will give businesses a second chance and 11 % would avoid churning out if their complaints are resolved promptly. Here’s an article where we have talked about how you can turn Detractors into Promoters using some key strategies.
  2. Promoters

    Customers who rate their likelihood of recommending your product, service, or brand 9 or 10 out of 10 are Promoters. They are enthusiastic and happy customers who are satisfied with your business. They advocate your brand and are likely to spread positive word of mouth feedback among their friends and relatives. The best way to leverage your promoters is by asking them to become customer references.

    According to the Harvard Business Review, even if Promoters themselves have stopped using your products or services (as they no longer require it) they will still go out of their way to recommend it to others and make repeat purchases. So, encourage your promoters to spread positive word of mouth. We’ve also covered here ways to encourage promoters to promote your brand.

  3. Passives

    Customers who are moderate and rate their willingness to recommend you or your company as 7-8 out of 10 are Passives. Passives are moderate in recommending behavior, they neither promote your brand nor say negative things. They might like your brand but not enthusiastic to recommend your products, services, or business to other customers.

    In fact in the NPS formula: %Promoter - %Detractors passives are not included. Thus, businesses have overlooked passives while closing the feedback loop. And here your NPS campaign becomes worthless, why? Because when you neglect passives, definitely your passives will get churned immediately if and when they get a better deal.

    Also, it is not guaranteed at all that on following up with your detractors, you will win them back. It is a matter of how much effort you put. As a result, if you ignore passives and detractors who may or may not get convinced to give you another chance, you will land up losing a lot of customers, and business. 

    Consequently, focusing on acquiring new customers costs 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining the existing one, whereas a 5% rise in customer retention rate increases business profit by 25% to 95%. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to work on retaining your at-risk customers (both detractors and passives) as it can augment your profit rate drastically.

    Along with detractors, also follow up with your passives and encourage them to become your promoters. From the above, we can easily conclude that if you want to retain customers and make your business growth-focused then you need to start leveraging your Passives.

NPS Customer Segment

But what are the best ways to reach out to Passives? Before we explore the best tricks and tips to win back Passives, let us first understand how to know why those customers aren’t your promoters already.

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Find out why are some of your Customers are Passives

In an ideal NPS Survey, just asking the NPS question isn’t enough. You should follow up your NPS Question with a qualitative feedback question, like a comment box to allow customers to give you a reason for their NPS Score. This helps you understand customer issues, where you have failed to delight them, what are the weaknesses of your product or services, and more. Some of the best follow up NPS Questions are: 

  1. What is the primary reason for your score?
  2. What do you like least about the company or product or services?
  3. What do you like most about the company or product or services?
  4. What was missing or disappointing in your experience with us?
  5. How can we improve your experience?
  6. What is the one thing we could do to make you happier? 

These questions will allow you to connect with your passives engagingly and get suggestions to improve their experience and encourage them to become your promoters. 

Here are the Best NPS Question and Follow Up Question Templates for you to explore to get the most out of your NPS Surveys.

7 Steps to turn Passives into Promoters

  1. Analyze and Categorize the Responses and Issues of the Passives
  2. Introspect and find out where you failed to Delight them
  3. Ask more follow up questions (if required)
  4. Identify the Potential Churn
  5. Offer an experience or product to exceed their expectations
  6. Close the Customer Feedback Loop with Passives
  7. Connect with your Passives Emotionally

Once you have understood the reason why your customers aren’t delighted and are Passives - the next step is to convince them to give your brand a chance to delight them. Convincing passives aren’t as tough as detractors. According to the Harvard Business Review, the amount of effort required to turn passive to promoters is less as compared to detractors. So, before interacting with passives, make a plan to define your goals and approaches to engage with your passives.

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Let’s explore 7 Steps to Turn your Passives into Promoters:

Analyze and Categorize the Responses and Issues of the Passives

After you’ve received the NPS Survey Responses along with the comments of your customers highlighting the reason for the score, it is ideal to now analyze the responses of your passives. Are they unsatisfied or not delighted due to a personal expectation or issue, or are these recurring issues? Are you failing to meet their expectations or setting wrong expectations about your business and brand in your communication with the customers? It is important to understand the nature of the issues based on the responses shared by the passives to formulate your plan of action. 

You can segregate customer issues into two categories:

  1. Recurring or Common Issues: These are the general issues that mostly happen with multiple customers. Like in the case of hotel feedback, some recurring issues could be like no clean washroom, unavailability of housekeepers, and so on. So, these issues are to be solved at the business level.

  2. Personal Issues: These are the issues that happen specifically with individuals based on their personal opinion and experience. Like in the case of customer support service feedback, some personal issues could be like delays in response, resolution time is high, and so on. These issues are solved on a personal basis.

Analyzing and categorizing customer issues in different and relevant categories can be helpful in the following ways:

  • In identifying recurring and non-recurring issues

  • Categorizing issues and analyzing how often they are happening 

  • Assigning relevant issues to the right teams 

  • Tracking the resolution of issues within your team 

  • Conveying the resolution of relevant issues to the customers

Introspect and find out where you failed to Delight them

Passives might like your brand but not enthusiastic to recommend your products or services to others. They are likely to switch to a brand that ensures better value. Maybe that ‘better value’ is missing in your business that failed to delight your passives. Now you need to introspect why or which needs of passives you are failing to fulfil. 

See! Passives rate your products or services with a 7-8 which is close to the promoter scale. Therefore, bringing them to the promoter scale is not so difficult. All you need to do is listen to their feedback, find what they are exactly looking for or what are the features they are expecting to have in your product or services. 

When Passives find that you have made changes in your business or added those specific features which they are looking for, they will connect to your brand to the personal level. And this connection will encourage your passives to become enthusiastic Promoters.

Ask more follow up questions (if required)

Indeed, Passives are moderate and keep your product or service at low priority. They might use your products or services rarely or else they prefer to buy from your competitors. In this scenario, your passives will take your standard follow-up question - What is the reason for your score? just as another message and neglect it. With the standard follow-up question, there is no scope to improve the relationship with passives. We know that asking the reason for the score is essential for our business, as it helps you to find the weaknesses of your products and services. 

But with the Passives, we need to ask this in a way that makes them feel that you want to improve their experience and strengthen the customer relationship with them. So, you need to reach out to your passives with a clear cut message that leaves no space for neglection. Simply ask them what you can do to improve their experience. Now, you can ask this thing in different ways like:

  1. What was missing or disappointing in your experience with us?

  2. What do you expect to see in our product or service?

  3. How can we improve your experience?

  4. What is the one thing we could do to make you happier?

Identify the Potential Churn

With Passives there is no risk that they will spread bad word of mouth feedback among other customers but there is no surety that they’ll stay with your business or will churn out. They’ll for sure leave your business for a competitor who serves them better than you. So, you need to introspect the touchpoints or events that lead to churn.

For this, do competitor analyses and check what those extra offerings they are providing that attract your passives, like some high-quality products or services, best pricing, good support services, exceptional customer experience, and so on. The best way to find out these things is to refer to the positive feedback of your competitors. See, what their promoters have written about them and their products and services.   

And try to implement the same in your strategies as well and make your products or services better than your competitors. Based on the competitor analyses there could be a lot of touchpoints and events that lead to churn:

  1. Quality of Products and Services - While purchasing any product or service, we always look for reviews to ascertain its quality. There are various questions that customers have in their minds before buying any product or service like, does it solves a problem, Is it easy to use, and so on. So, if the quality of your product or service didn’t match your customers’ needs, they will simply leave your business.
  2. Pricing & Features - While setting up the prices of your products and services, it is crucial to set a proper balance between the pricing and the features. Always check at a personal level that the price you’ve set for your products or services is matching to the quality of features or not. For instance, there are two SaaS companies, say A and B.
    Company A provides: following features at $124/month:
    # Unlimited website Templates
    # 120 Free web hosting (10 websites/month)
    # Payment Gateway Services (PayPal, Direcpay, Zaakpay, CCAvenue, and so on.)
    Company B Provides: following features at $224/month:
    # 100 Website Templates
    # 10 web hosting
    # Payment Gateway Services (PayPal, Direcpay, and CCAvenue)

    If we compare the prices and features of both company A and B, we find that company A is providing almost every service unlimited at @124/month. Whereas, company B is providing limited features at $224/month. Which one would you prefer? You will also opt for company A. If you are a customer of company B, you will leave the company and switch to company A.

  3. Bad Customer Support Services - According to the study by Walker “by the end of 2020*, price and product will be overtaken by customer experience and satisfaction as the key brand differentiators.” Apart from products and services, you need to focus on improving the overall experience of your customers. Besides the products or services, there are various other inconveniences in services like delay in response, no response on a support ticket raised, low problem resolution time, and so on that only frustrate your customers but also spoil their experience.

Offer an experience or product to exceed their expectations

You need to lure your Passives with some extra offerings that not only make them happy and satisfied but also encourage them to change their brand perceptions perceived earlier. Also, this encourages your passives to shift themselves to the promoters’ category. We can lure the passives with various support materials like free products & services guide, special discounts on products and services, free trial extension, some premium features, and so on. With this practice, you can successfully turn your Passives into Promoters.

Close the Customer Feedback Loop with Passives

Closing the customer feedback loop is a crucial step in an NPS Campaign. Closing the feedback loop means settling down the things in positive ways and developing a long-term relationship with your passives to improve their experience. We’ve also written why Closing the Customer Feedback Loop is important for your business.

Always follow-up with your passives to change their perception towards your products, services, or business. Make yourself so actionable that you build their trust again. Listen to their issues calmly, for this you can ask various closed-ended & open-ended questions to understand their pain points. What else could be better if you ask them directly what they want from you. Ask them to outline the solutions they want from you. Trust me! The suggestions you’ll get from them will help you to improve your business a lot and you'll be able to close the customer feedback loop on a positive note.

Connect with your Passives Emotionally

Sometimes your passives don’t take interest in your follow-up session or they can also think that you are trying to hard-sell them. So, in this case, you need to make yourself extraordinary in terms of presenting the things and address them proactively. You need to connect with your Passives emotionally. Admit your mistake and pretend that you are concerned for them and want to do something to improve their experience.

Jump into the conversation with the apology note. This will convince your passives to get into the conversation. Address their problem calmly and ensure they'll not face any kind of inconvenience again in the future. Always remain in touch with your passives (who tuned into promoters) to develop a long-lasting relationship. For this, you can send Transactional & Relationship NPS Surveys to capture their instant and general feedback regarding your business.

Another way to connect emotionally with your customers especially Passives is by appreciating them to devote their time in giving you feedback. Your Passives invest their crucial time in responding to your survey and that too when they know that responses will get overlooked. So, it is your courtesy to pay gratitude and say thanks to them. According to a study by Rockefeller Corporation, 68% of customers turn their backs on companies because they feel unappreciated.

When you appreciate passives for giving their time to respond to your survey, it creates an impression in their mind and also strengthens the scope for you to connect emotionally with your passives. So, you send a Personalized Post-Survey message/mail or express thanks to your passives. To strengthen your relations with Passives and encourage them to become Promoters, you can also lure them with a promotional badge to make them feel special.

Tips to Convert your NPS Passives into PromotersIdentify Promoters, Passives, and Detractors with Zonka Feedback

Zonka Feedback’s NPS Survey enables you to easily create, distribute, manage, and analyze the NPS Surveys. You can deploy our NPS Tool to:

  1. Customize NPS Surveys
  2. Add Follow Up Question
  3. Measure eNPS
  4. Set Real-time Alerts for Team
  5. Set Automated Notifications for Respondents
  6. Track NPS in real-time
  7. Access in-depth NPS Reports
  8. Create Tasks & Close the Loop
  9. Use APIs & connect with tools

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Learn more about the Net Promoter Score (NPS)


Written by Archit

Jan 13, 2021

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