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Detractors are those customers who are unhappy with your company/business. In the business world, customers are the ones who lead the way for the success of a business. Among these customers, unhappy customers or Detractors are the vital part.

As Bill Gates said, your unhappy customers are your source of learning. 

To identify Detractors you have to track the customer experience and satisfaction by using the Net Promoter Score®. NPS® is a scale used as a customer experience metric. You can use NPS® to ask your customer questions such as “On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company’s XYZ product/service to your acquaintances?”

Based on the responses gathered from the NPS® survey, customers fall into three categories:

  • Promoters: rating 9 or 10- Generally loyal customers who willingly advocate and recommend the company to others
  • Passives: rating 7 or 8- They are neutral about their feelings toward your company. They are somewhat satisfied with your brand but not enough to promote it to their friends

Detractors: rating 0 to 6- These customers have a negative experience with your company and are extremely dissatisfied


What are Detractors?

Detractors, as mentioned, are the customers who are extremely unhappy with the service you provide. Unhappy customers stop using your service or product. But the nightmare is that Detractors negatively promote the business they are upset with. 

They share their disappointing experience with their friends and recommend not doing business with the brand. They may also write about their negative experience with the company on public platforms which can influence the opinion of many of your potential customers.

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Why is it important to identify Detractors?

Detractors are a great way to learn what is lacking in your service or product. You can learn why customers are dissatisfied with your company. By understanding these factors that are causing them to leave your company you can solve them. 

You can lead your business to a more customer-centric direction by following up with the detractors. Understanding their sentiment and reasons can help you make the necessary changes. It is not possible to reach out and personally interact with each one of your detractors. However, following up with them can certainly benefit you and your business. 

Fortunately, studies say that 95% of unhappy customers or Detractors are willing to give the company a second chance. Also, 11% of consumers would avoid leaving the company if their issue is resolved by the company in a timely manner. 

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How to identify Detractors?

Detractors are a category of NPS® survey metrics. The metric allows you to identify the customers who are unhappy with the company’s service by tracking their overall experience with the business. NPS® has a wide reach to analyze customer experience. You can use the survey metric to customers who are at risk of leaving and also the newly acquired customers who just started using the service. 

Other than NPS® , you can also use Customer Satisfaction Score or CSAT to analyze the active customers and their satisfaction for every interaction. The feedback collected from CSAT can be used along with NPS® to examine the root cause of issues faced by customers. 

You can use NPS® and CSAT and follow along the customer journey to identify major issues, narrow them down and develop strategies to correct these issues.

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Problems Detractors can cause for your business

Bring down your Business

  • 41% of customers spend less on a company if they had a bad experience with their service. 
  • Unhappy customers cannot find any reason to continue doing business with you. You will need to find new customers and we know that it is five-time more expensive to acquire new customers. As a result, you won’t have a balance between your revenue and expenses. Your company will lose more money.
  • Not only will you lose money on advertising and marketing campaigns but will also lose time and manpower. Your team will be distracted by the loss of customers, while it is better to have them provide service for the existing customers. 
  • Did you know in the US a business loses on average $41 billion/year for poor service?

Ruin Brand Image

  • Word-of-mouth is a double-edged tool. While it can help you promote your business it can also ruin it. 
  • With social media and the internet as a mainstream communication channel, one negative comment from a detractor can cost you many prospective customers. Customers use social media to complain about their bad experiences with the company. 70% of customers use social media to call out brands in order to inform other people of probable issues.

Go to your Competitors

  • A bad experience is enough reason for your detractors to look for alternate service. 8 out of 10 customers claim that if they experience poor customer service they have no issue doing business with the company’s competitor. 
  • Your competitors are not going to miss out on any opportunity that can help them acquire your customers. 
  • 40% of customers say that they will find an alternative to do business with if they feel underappreciated. Ignoring your detractors is like gifting your own customers to your competitors.

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How can you convert Detractors into Promoters?

Follow up on Feedback 

Detractors are hard to set on leaving your company. You cannot do the bare minimum to keep them and convert them into promoters. Identifying the customer should be followed by a follow-up to see how you can resolve their complaint. Once you receive their feedback, act on it, share it across the department, and discuss problems that seem to repeat. 

Don’t keep the detractors out of the loop. Communicate with them throughout the process of solving their issue. Detractors can give you insights into why they feel dissatisfied with your service. It can give you a clear picture of why you are losing so many customers. As a result, you can decide which issue to handle first and how. Follow up with detractors again to tell them your action plan and the result of your decision. 

Humanize your customers

The most important thing to win over a customer is to treat them with compassion and show them that you understand their frustration. Customers are well aware that you are following scripts when talking to them. This makes them feel unappreciated. They feel they are just a number in the list of problems you have to deal with. 

To ensure that your customers feel appreciated you have made them feel that it is not just a scripted but a friendly conversation. You have to give them a sense of security and emotional connection. Don’t follow the script and talk like a robot, if customers want that they will use AI-chats instead of calling for live agents. 

Apologize and relate to the customer’s frustration. Use a friendly tone to calm them and pay attention to the customer’s tone as well. This will help you decide the right way to approach the customer and resolve their issue. 

Fast Response

Your customers turn into detractors because of the slow response from your service team.Place yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine the difference between waiting for an hour and waiting for more than 24 hours to receive a response. The difference in the time taken to respond makes a huge difference. 

When you provide a solution within an hour it shows that you care about your customers and are concerned about their experience. It shows how important they are for you while also saving your reputation.90% of customers expect an immediate response from the company, while 60% expect a response within 10 minutes. You can improve your slow response with Automation. Personalize the automated response rather than using generic responses. 

You can personalize emails for the detractors by optimizing an email reply to them when they give you a rating between 0 and 6. You can include their name, acknowledge their frustration, and with further questions to figure out the reason for the rating with a thank you note at the end. 

Be honest with your customers

If you are overselling your abilities while providing an unsatisfying experience you are making your own Detractors. Be honest with your customers because they are a big part of your success. Share with them if you are dealing with some issues and limitations. Tell your customers that you are listening to their complaints and feedback. Share with them how you are planning to improve your service. Tell your detractors that you will help them with the issue instead of avoiding their complaints. 

Your ultimate purpose should be to give your customers a good experience and make them feel a part of your family. 

Chart an unpleasant Customer Journey

This may sound surprising but you can prevent any future complaints by drawing a possible unpleasant customer journey. You can use different unfavorable scenarios that your customer may face with your service that could convert them into Detractors. You can use these detractor touchpoints to improve the journey by having the departments responsible for them handle these issues. The departments should assess relevant metrics to improve the customer journey. 

Track improvement by using NPS® and keep on improving the detractor’s journey. This can help you understand the reasons causing your customers to become detractors. As a result, you can prevent any issues in the future while also improving the customer experience.



Detractor customers are those who give your company a rating between 0 and 6 on an NPS® scale when they are unhappy and dissatisfied with the service. They are unlikely to do business with the company. They share their bad experience with other people, minimizing your chance of acquiring customers.
To calculate the NPS® you have to find out the difference between the percentage of Promoter and Detractors. The Net Promoter Score® is an absolute number between -100 and +100. For example, if you have 45% promoter and 40 % Passive, and 25% detractors your NPS will be +20
A good NPS® is any score above 0. This reflects that your customers are more or less loyal. Any score above 20 is “favorable”. Bain & Company suggests that an NPS® score above 50 is “excellent”, while a score above 80 is “world-class”.

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