Detractors vs. Promoters: 5 Strategies to Improve Your Net Promoter Score (NPS)


Your Net Promoter Score (NPS) is the customer service metric that predicts your customers’ loyalty and satisfaction by asking them how likely they are to recommend your product or service to a friend or colleague.

Because of its power in predicting the customers most likely to refer a business to their friends, many view NPS as the most valuable customer service metric.

Measured on a scale from 0 to 10 (with 10 being the highest score and indicating that the customer is very likely to refer the business to their friends), NPS surveys can be sent at many touchpoints in your customers’ sales journeys or customer service journeys. 

For customers who report a 9 or 10, your company is all but guaranteed to have a customer evangelist in the wings, boosting revenues. These customers are also called promoters.

Customers who score 7 or 8 are neither promoters nor detractors. They are called passives in NPS terms. 

But for customers who report a 0 to 6, your company almost certainly has a detractor customer running loose and possibly damaging your company’s reputation. Your company needs to address the issues that caused these customers to have a poor experience to raise your NPS and improve your customer experience.

So, what do you do if your NPS is subpar? In this article, we’ll discuss 6 strategies on how to improve your Net Promoter Score and generate more revenues as a result of higher customer satisfaction.

What Are The Best Ways To Improve NPS?

1. Measure Consistently and Comprehensively

NPS is easy to measure on your website or via any of your customer service channels, which is why if you are worried that your NPS is low, your first action should be to check for measurement consistency.

Are you:

  • Always phrasing the NPS survey question exactly the same way and presenting the survey in the same way?
  • Always scoring your NPS from 0 to 10?
  • Getting enough customer engagement in answering your NPS survey to have a significant sample size?
  • Only surveying NPS in certain areas of your website or after certain customer service interactions rather than everywhere?
  • Ensuring that each customer can only answer each of your NPS surveys once per relevant interaction?
  • Tracking which customers provide what answers to your NPS surveys?

If your answer to any of these questions is “no,” your NPS measurement may be too broad or incomplete.

Fix your measurement methodology and then see if you improve NPS score as a result.

2. Find And Fix Problems

Assuming that you’re measuring NPS correctly and consistently but your NPS is still lower than you’d like, your next course of action is to find problems by looking at your biggest detractors.

Detractors have NPS scores of 6 or lower, which means that they have raised their hands to indicate they are having a negative experience. Often, these bad customer experiences have a common root cause which you can address.

To address your detractors’ problems, you should:

  1. Identify customers with low NPS scores
  2. Look for a unifying trend; do all of the customers with low NPS scores use a specific customer service channel, a specific product, or a specific portion of your site that customers with higher NPS scores don’t?
  3. If there is a trend that separates detractors from other customers, take actions to counteract the trend.
  4. Reach out to detractors to engage with them; ask about what they dislike, and inform them that you are taking changes to correct it already
  5. Monitor future engagements with detractors’ responses to NPS surveys to check for improvement

    The idea behind this tactic is that there are certain aspects of your company or customer service that are causing the majority of the problems that are generating detractors.

    The goal of the “find and fix” approach isn’t to turn your detractors into evangelists in one step, it’s to make changes in your operations or product and then notify the detractors and acknowledge that you understand they were let down but that you’ve taken steps to improve their experience. In the process, hopefully you can turn them into passives on the NPS scale.

    Turning a detractor into a passive with an NPS score of 7-8 means that the detractor isn’t actively damaging your prospects of picking up a new customer.

    3. Always Respond, Always Follow Up, And Always Ask For More

    If your NPS isn’t where you want it to be and you can’t identify a common trend among your detractors, there are still plenty of tricks to raise your score.

    To improve your Net Promoter Score, you should:

    • Always respond to customers who reach out to your customer service team and who respond to your NPS surveys
    • Always follow up with customer responses by thanking the customer and furthering engagement
    • Always ask the customer directly if there is anything that would have made their experience easier

    If you aren’t always responding to every customer inquiry in every customer service channel, doing so will provide a huge boost to your NPS. Likewise, if you aren’t following up with customers after their experience, you’re leaving valuable customer engagement on the table.

    Finally, if you aren’t collecting direct feedback from your customers who have already indicated that they’re willing to be engaged, you’re missing out on invaluable insights.

    4. Make Case Studies Out Of Promoters And Passives

    Customers who answer with scores between 9 and 10 are your evangelists.

    If you can figure out what was done correctly with these customers by making a case study out of their customer service journey or sales journey, you can replicate their satisfaction elsewhere and raise your NPS.

    In a case study of evangelists, remember to be as detailed as possible. What separated the customer experience of the customer who answered 10 when surveyed for NPS from the customer who answered 7?

The customer who answered 7 is a few nudges away from becoming an evangelist, which means that it’s important to flesh out the nuance between their case and the case of the evangelist.

5. Consider Data From Other Metrics

It’s also helpful to introduce data from other metrics to raise your NPS.

Specifically, the Customer Effort Score (CES) Survey is a metric which indicates how easy the customer’s experience was. If your NPS contains a lot of passives with scores between 7-8, see if you can follow up with these customers and have them rate how easy their experience was.

There’s a good chance that there are many areas of your customer service pipeline where things could be made slightly easier for the customer.

If you can pinpoint these areas with another metric like CES and make a few focused changes, you can improve your Net Promoter Score as a result.

Like the other tactics we covered to raise your NPS, pulling in other metrics allows your company to identify its weak points and unhappy customers in order to implement changes. Metrics like CES work equally well at turning passives into promoters.

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