9 Reasons Why it’s Worth to Engage with Detractors

February 8th at 4:34pm by Susan Levermann

For a successful Net Promoter System you need to do more than just collect feedback. Just as important is the use of feedback-management and retention platforms like zenloop to analyse feedback and break it down into procedures and actionable steps. Here are 9 reasons why companies should focus not just on promoters, but take an active interest in detractors and respond to their feedback.

Only with the help of continual feedback collation and analysis is it possible to generate the working steps necessary to allow for the improvement of product, service and the Customer Journey. All too often, companies focus solely on their interaction with promoters. Feedback from detractors includes at least as much valuable information, making interacting with detractors and the successful closing of the feedback loop a key success driver in any organization.


9 Reasons Not to Give Detractors the Cold Shoulder

#1 Never Say Never: A Detractor Can also Turn into a Promoter

The goal of a company should of course be to offer its customers - without exception - the perfect customer experience. But, be honest with yourself: We know we all make mistakes and sometimes factors of such magnitude come into play that a company cannot be expected to keep everything under full control.

Bearing this in mind means that each and every detractor is really a great chance to learn and improve. Additionally, detractors often have low expectations for the company that they criticize, so there is a huge hidden opportunity with the potential to transform their negative attitudes to that of promoter. Sometimes, it is sometimes enough to simply respond to their criticism to turn them into a fan of your company.

Small tip: The most loyal customers are often former detractors.


#2 Get Additional Input: What Exactly Irks your Customers?

A detractor will not always give a useful comment with with poor rating. Comments are either missing entirely or don’t contain much in the way of actionable information. The single best way to find the reasons behind a customer’s poor score and what caused their dissatisfaction is to engage with your critics.

This process gives you and your whole team the chance to find where potential improvements lie. The customer feels listened to and taken seriously. Often a simple call back from customer service or a question form a template suffices to generate helpful information and additional input.

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#3 The Root of all Evil – Find the Fly in the Ointment

What at first may seem like a mere trifling issue can be an indicator of deeper problems. Targeted inquiries of your critics can reveal, for example, that you are facing a severe bug in your system and not a user error or incorrect use. Or even worse, communication with your critics may reveal evidence of the wrong advice being given by your colleagues, which would indicate poor or missing training within your organisation.

To close the feedback loop and to follow up on customer complaints allows one to go deeper into a topic and discover possible errors that were previously hidden from view. That may seem difficult, but when these hidden problems are resolved you can prevent whole swathes of future unhappy customers.


#4 That Escalated Quickly: Making a Mountain out of a Molehill

Quickly identifying and understanding both detractors and pain points can have makes effects on the success of an organization and above all, prevent trifles from turning into larger problems.

Customers with a negative experience only sometimes turn into detractors, who possibly speak poorly about a company. It is much more likely that numerous small issues have a snowball effect and turn into larger problems that are not surmountable with even the best customer retention or customer service program.

Dealing swiftly with such issues prevents larger problems and deescalates the situation.

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#5 What’s Gone Is Gone. A Churn Rate of just 6% per Month Means Losing Half your Customers in Only a Year. OUCH!

Detractors stand out in comparison to passives and promoters with their significantly higher churn rate. Much worse: This churn can bring down whole companies. Only a 6% churn rate is enough for a company to lose half its customers in 12 months. This is not only painful, but puts you on a path to bankruptcy.

However, not all detractors are made equal and the reasons for dissatisfaction can be very different. Whereas talking to one may be a lost cause, another may still be persuadable and provide valuable teachings which you can take for your company’s development. This allows you to prioritize efforts and investments to focus on the customers most likely to churn.


#6 Don’t We all Need Someone Who Listens to Us?

It's as simple as that and the answer is: Yes, we all need someone who listens to us. This also means that if we’re going to go to the effort of asking our customers for their opinion, then we should listen to it. The customer will only recognize this if we demonstrate it. Closing the feedback loop and examining customer’s criticisms is a clear signal which says: Hey, we're here and we’ve listened to you. Thank you for sharing with us! That is already more than most expect.

Usually, this means that even a simple apology for a bad experience is sufficient to positively surprise and delight detractors. Mainly as most feel that any and all comments sent off to the world wide web are lost forever. Sometimes a very constructive dialog between customer and company emerges, and results in the customer feeling that someone in the organization really takes an interest in them.

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#7 Solve Problems Before They Arise

Usually detractors are upset about trifles which can be easily solved by good customer service: perhaps it is an unclear delivery status, an error in invoicing or the return of a product which drives the customer wild with fury.

Customer service can then check on delivery status and share it with the customer, correct the bill or show goodwill in the administration of the customer’s return. When a solution can be easily implemented for the customer's benefit then they will reward you. Often the chance to convert a detractor into a loyal promoter turns up at this point.


#8 Don’t Throw Money Down the Drain: Prevent Churn and Save Money

Apart from the fact that with every lost customer the attainable average shopping cart price reduces, every customer which breaks off shopping with you causes significantly higher costs. Every lost customer needs to be replaced with a new one just to maintain turnover - nevermind if you are aiming for growth.

An old rule of marketing is that it costs around 7 times more money to gain a new customer than you will need to invest in an existing relationship. Quite a lot, isn’t it? Look to make promoters from your detractors, instead of keeping a ready eye open for new customers - especially as promoters have, on average, significantly higher value shopping carts. This makes for the best ROI.


#9 Sometimes More Is More: Detractors Report their Negative Experiences Twice as much as Promoters Report their Good

The billionaire investor Warren Buffett once said:

"It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently."

Let that sink in for a moment. Also bear in mind that detractors are twice as likely to comment on their negative experiences than promoters are to share their good ones - or give no recommendation - meaning we know how important it is to respond to detractors. The faster companies respond to negative feedback, the less likely is it that a critic shares his negative experiences with friends and acquaintances. In the best case scenario they will report about the positive and productive reaction that they got from their feedback.

We can see that detractors carry as much weight as promoters when you look at the relative success or failure of an organization. If you use proper feedback management and take steps to close the feedback loop you can minimize negative consequences and use the enormous potential of detractors to convert them into your most loyal customers and true brand ambassadors.


Do have doubts about having the resources needed to setup a NPS? In our article NPS: Successful Feedback Management in spite of tight resources" you can read about how to achieve this.

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Would you like to know more on the subject of NPS, customer satisfaction and feedback management? In our article NPS: Successful Feedback Management in spite of tight resources" we tell you why feedback and customer experience management should still be a priority with minimal resources and how our NPS Software zenloop can help you.


Susan Levermann

Content Marketing Manager