Who are NPS Detractors & How to Follow ​up​ ​with​ Them

6 min read

NPS detractors know where you can improve, they provide feedback and they are honest.

You’ve set up your NPS survey and sent it off to all your customers. But WAIT. What’s this? It couldn’t be. Yes, sure as sugar, one of your customers responded to the survey with a 4. That makes them a Detractor with a capital D.

Could​ ​it​ ​be​ ​a​ ​mistake?​ ​Hmm,​ ​doesn’t​ ​look​ ​like​ ​it​ ​with​ ​that​ ​comment.  

Okay, breathe. There are lots of customers who’ve given good scores too. We’ll talk about them later. First, let’s focus on how we’re going to follow up with this Detractor.

Why​ ​you​ ​should​ ​follow​ ​up NPS detractorsWhy​ ​you​ ​should​ ​follow​ ​up

You​ ​might​ ​be​ ​wondering​ ​if​ ​you​ ​can​ ​just​ ​ignore​ ​the​ ​grumpy​ ​customer.​ ​Well,​ ​you​ ​can,​ ​but​ ​they probably​ ​won’t​ ​be​ ​your​ ​customer​ ​for​ ​much​ ​longer.

NPS Detractors are much more likely to churn than promoters. Around 50% of your NPS detractors are likely to churn within the next 90 days. If you aren’t able to turn them around, they will probably be walking out the door.

Ignoring detractors will be an expensive practice. It’s 5 to 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one.

Following up and learning from detractors in your NPS program is a big part of customer retention. These are customers literally telling you they aren’t happy.

It’s a rare gift for customers to give you such honest feedback. The least we can do is read, respond and act on it.

Automated or Personalized Follow-ups

We 100% recommend following up with your NPS detractors in some way. There’s two ways to go about it. You can either create an automated response workflow that asks for more information, or dive straight into a phone call.  

Automated Responses to NPS Detractors

Baremetrics has built an automated email workflow to follow up with detractors. This email sends out to anyone who replies to the NPS survey with a score of 6 or less. You can send replies back into the inbox of whoever should be following up with NPS detractors – perhaps the customer support team or a product marketer?

Baremetrics´ automated response for following up with detractors

The benefit of setting up automated responses is that you get more information before putting in time and effort with an individualized response. This workflow manages itself and you should be getting out more information.

The drawback is that it’s automated. If your customer has already written an essay to your team about what’s wrong, and is dealing with 5 open support tickets, they are not going to be pleased to get this email. Proceed with caution!

Responding Personally

Ultimately, you’ll need to contact the customer directly. Picking up the phone, thanking them for being a customer and having a conversation about their concerns is one of the most important things you can do for customer retention. Most customers don’t expect the company to respond at that level, so going above and beyond will win you some brownie points!

Decide who should respond to detractors in your company. Often it will depend on the type of customer and their concerns. Customer support is often in a good position to follow up, especially senior members of the team. Product marketers benefit from talking to customers who aren’t seeing the value of the product, or had different expectations. Founders can benefit from talking to everyone! Take turns following up with detractors and collate the notes so everyone can benefit.

follow up NPS detractors

How to follow up with a NPS Detractor

1. Don’t be defensive

Especially if you’re very close to the product, your first reaction will probably be to stomp your feet and insist they don’t know what they’re talking about. This is a totally human reaction to criticism, but it’s not helpful to bring to the conversation with a customer.

Breathe, take a walk around the block, look at pictures of cats or sleep on it. Once you’re ready to respond, listen and understand, pick up your computer again and begin.

2. Gain context

Before jumping into a conversation with the customer, get to know who you’ll be talking to. There’s a ton of different ways to gain context around why a detractor may not love your product. First up: read their comments in the NPS survey. Read them to or three times and try to understand where they are coming from.

Then, jump into any other interactions they’ve had with your company. It might be support tickets, customer satisfaction surveys, product usage or sales conversations. Don’t go in blind to the conversation – know who you’re dealing with.

3. Have a plan

Planning is the key to success. If the customer specifically calls out feature requests that have been in the works for years, check with the product team to see if they have an update. If the customer is confused about how to do something, be ready with the instructions.

Are you going to offer them an apology? A refund? What’s your plan to get this customer to become a promoter?

Perhaps this phone call isn’t the right time to promote your company, and you just need to listen. Whatever your strategy is, decide your desired outcome from the call or email, and make a game plan.

4. Explain why you’re following up with them

Alright, it’s finally time. Pick up the phone or open up your email. They will probably be curious about why you’re getting in touch with them. They could also be suspicious that you’re trying to hard sell them. The first thing we want to do is introduce yourself, set their expectations, and lower their defenses.

Don’t call them a detractor to their face.

Do let them know you’re following up from a recent NPS survey.

Don’t tell them you want to make them happy. It sounds disingenuous.

Do explain why you’re calling.

Here’s an example introduction you can use:

“Hello! My name is Juanita and I work at Company X as a product manager. I wanted to follow up on the recent survey you sent in. We read every single one of them and I was hoping to talk with you about your experience with Company X.”

5. Ask a lot of questions

After confirming that the customer has time to talk with you, jump into the meat of the conversation. You’ll want to start with an open question to get them talking. For example, “tell me about your experience with Company X so far.”

Open questions can’t be answered with one word answers. Closed questions usually only require a yes or no response. “Have you liked using our product” only requires customers to say yes or no, so you shouldn’t expect them to volunteer a lot of information.

Dive into areas you don’t understand. Ask NPS detractors to walk you through how they use the product, and what they were expecting to be different.

Tip: Record the conversation if you can, even if you’re taking notes. That way you can focus more on the conversation than making sure you get everything down.

Asking lots of questions works in email too. Start off with a general question, then list two or three others that you’re curious about. Although, if you do want to have a conversation with a detractor, you’ll probably find you have more success getting the full story over the phone.

6.  Address their concerns

Thank the customer for talking with you. But don’t leave them hanging! Repeat the list of their concerns back to them to make sure you’ve collected all the information they wanted you to hear. This is where taking brief notes comes in handy. They might have rambled on for a bit, so being able to concisely organize their concerns will make it easier to resolve everything.

If there’s anything you can address right now, like explaining a feature they didn’t know was there, or apologizing for a bad service experience, do it. Everything else, explain what you’re going to do next and then follow up.

This is the perfect time to address concerns that the Detractor has raised during the call. You might not have this chance again, so take advantage!

7. Follow up

For anything that you can’t solve right then and there, you’ll want to follow up later. Do not tell customers you’ll follow up and then don’t. This is a recipe for disaster. The detractor has opened up, shared their feedback with you and is open to options for the future. If you don’t deliver, it’s a guarantee that the detractor will start spreading bad word of mouth.

Whatever to-do list system you use, keep this customer on it until you’re able to resolve every concern they had. You can also add the customer’s contact details onto whatever system you use to track feature requests. That way, when they get rolled out, the customer will definitely get an update!

8. Track success

If you spent time following up with detractors, you’ll want to see the results of your efforts. Follow that NPS survey up in another couple months to see if anything has changed. See if your detractors have churned or stick around.

The benefit of NPS Detractors

NPS Detractors can be the greatest source of information for your company. They know where you can improve, they provide feedback and they are honest.

Even if you don’t manage to convert detractors into promoters, you’ll still end up with more information on how your customers view your company.

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