Here’s an interesting fact that should absolutely catch your eye: according to a McKinsey & Company study, 20-50% of a company’s revenue is driven by referrals.

Pair this idea with the rising costs in the acquisition, and it becomes evident that customer loyalty should be your top priority. 

Yet, even if you offer stellar customer experiences, you might still find unsatisfied customers inside your customer base. These people won’t recommend your brand, nor will they return for a second purchase.

If you measure your Net Promoter Score (NPS), you know these customers fall into the group of Detractors. 

Even if it seems like a bad sign, Detractors can be an asset for your company: they’re engaged, they give you honest feedback, and…you can change their minds. 

Read this article and learn how to turn NPS Detractors into Promoters so you can benefit from customer referrals, increased revenue, and more loyal customers in the long run. 

What Is an NPS Detractor? 

Firstly, let’s sneak a look at the NPS score as a whole concept. 

The Net Promoters Score measures how many customers will recommend you to their friends and family. 

To identify this percentage, you need to send out customer satisfaction surveys and ask your customers to rate their experiences with your brand on a scale of 0 to 10. 

Then, perform NPS analysis and group your customer base into three groups: Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. 

Promoters, Passives & Detractors

To calculate NPS, you simply need to subtract your % of Detractors from the % of Promoters. Passives aren’t included in the NPS formula. Of course, you can use an NPS calculator to get your score – you don’t have to do it manually.

Do you want to read more about each group? Then check out this article. We’ve highlighted each category, including how to treat them to keep them loyal or move them into more fortunate groups.

NPS is one of those customer experience metrics that allow you to predict future growth with customer surveys and performance tracking.

Now that we refreshed our memory on the NPS metric, we can zoom in on NPS Detractors. 

NPS Detractors

NPS Detractors represent the Customers who gave you a low score on the customer satisfaction survey – ranging between 0 and 6. They are disappointed customers, unlikely to return for another purchase, and might even discourage others from buying from you. 

How Do You Identify NPS Detractors?

To correctly identify NPS Detractors, you must send out your NPS surveys first. Of course, you could identify them by manually looking at the feedback, but it will take a lot of time and effort. 

Instead, it’s better to use automated customer surveys and gather all your feedback data neatly in the same place. After you get the necessary feedback, you need to perform an NPS analysis and uncover your Detractors.

Remember that on the NPS scale, customers who give you scores between 0 and 6 are unhappy. Select these people from your survey respondents, and that’s it: you have your Detractors in NPS.

How Do You Respond to NPS Detractors?

Your customers’ feelings weigh the most for any eCommerce when you think about it. 

Instead of neglecting the voice of customers, you can try a different approach that will help you grasp what your customers think of you – and improve your services. 

Suppose your Detractor belongs to the high-value segment. In that case, you should trigger an alert to Customer Service to find and treat the problem as soon as possible. 

Remember, you shouldn’t let your customers wait – especially those at the top customer segments.  

With high-valued customers, you should trigger the alert to the head of the customer service department. These are your most important customers, and you don’t want to lose them. 

Did you find your ICP yet? If not, head over to our Guide and read everything about finding your best customers using advanced segmentation techniques. 

If the Detractor is in the segment of new customers with high potential, do the same thing. Ask open-ended questions, find the reason for your score, and solve those issues. 

Besides the customer value, you should also pay attention to their score. Yes, all grades between 0 and 6 place will place customers in the Detractors group, but there’s a nuance here. 

Scores of 0 or 1 help you identify infuriated customers who have one foot out the door. They need to be approached more quickly to mitigate the damage. 

The ones who gave you 2s – 6s aren’t that angry, but they are still disappointed. If the bad experience repeats itself, they will most likely leave you. 

Detractors (like all humans) need to feel understood and listened to; they want to feel like they matter. 

Keeping a human touch, showing empathy, and genuine interest in your customers’ interests are essential. It’s more of a mindset approach than a strategy one. 

The Importance of Identifying Detractors and Turning them into Promoters

NPS Promoters

Some eCommerce professionals ignore Detractors and instead focus on bringing in a steady flow of new customers monthly – without investing in catering to unhappy customers. 

While this approach might have worked a couple of years ago, the pandemic changed eCommerce forever. Just look at traffic and acquisition costs, and you’ll understand why customer retention is the game’s name. 

Of course, the higher the NPS score, the higher the chances that your customers will recommend your eCommerce. 

Recommendations and referrals translate into zero costs for customer acquisition and greater possibilities for your customers to buy from you again. In turn, this means increasing Customer Lifetime Value and your long-term growth. 

Fred Reichheld – best-selling author, speaker, and business strategist – puts a great deal of emphasis on offering great experiences and dealing with Detractors. 

In his book, “The loyalty effect,” he wrote: 

“Persistent defection means that former customers—people convinced the company offers inferior value—will eventually outnumber the company’s loyal advocates and dominate the collective voice of the marketplace. 

When that moment arrives, no amount of advertising, public relations, or ingenious marketing will prop up pricing, new-customer acquisitions, or the company’s reputation.”

Left unchecked and uncared for, Detractors can genuinely harm your business in the long run. Here are just some of the consequences of ignoring your Detractors. 

  • They can tarnish your reputation. 

With Social Media in such easy reach, it’s only a matter of seconds before a Detractor voices his negative opinion online. It can quickly cascade and become a wormhole of hateful comments you won’t manage to contain and control. 

  • And you’re enriching your competition

You know, it’s easier than ever for a customer to dump you. They just need to do a Google Search and discover the next best thing – usually your competitors. 

Therefore, each time you ignore a Detractor, and they leave, you’re inadvertently creating more customers for the competition and increasing their profits.

Instead, if you calculate your Net Promoter Score and actively deal with your Detractors, you can reduce churn and keep your customers with you over a more extended period.

  • You need to supplement your resources.

Moreover, you will need two Promoters to cancel a Detractors – which means your efforts still need to be consistent in delivering excellent customer experiences. It’s not something you can skip. 

Last but not least, Detractors aren’t a lost cause. Detractors and Promoters are in many ways alike:

  • They’re passionate.
  • They care about their experiences.
  • They’re open to offering feedback (even if it’s negative feedback).

All things considered, turning Detractors into Promoters shouldn’t even be a matter of “it” but a matter of “how.” 

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Tips to Convert Detractors Into Promoters

Identifying Detractors is just the first – and the easy – step. Now it’s time to buckle up and start the process of getting these people from hate to love.

Here’s your series of trips and tricks you can use to turn Detractors into Promoters. 

Identify the reasons for customer unhappiness

When you look at customers’ feedback positively, you realize it’s a fantastic tool showcasing precisely what you’re lacking in customer service and product assortment.

As the people testing your eCommerce from start to finish, your customers will always give you fresh, unbiased insights about their experiences. 

To get these insights, you need to add open-ended questions in your NPS surveys so Detractors can verbalize their discontent using the same Net Promoter Score surveys.

Look at the NPS results and uncover repeat issues. Then brainstorm with your teams and devise creative solutions to solve the root problems causing such bad experiences.

Establish a Roadmap for Improvement 

Yes, it’s great you want damage control and clear the air regarding Detractors. However, without S.M.A.R.T. objectives, you’ll end up making empty promises.

Present your Detractors with a “redemption” strategy that delivers a positive impression and proves you read and pay attention to customer feedback.

Convince Detractors that you’ll deliver a new and improved experience the next time and show them proof of it. This way (and if you keep your word), Detractors become Promoters.

Try to do personalized follow-ups. If you have limited resources, prioritize high-value customers and address them personally. No one likes to feel like another number on your sales quota, so try and offer as much personal, direct communication as possible.

Pick your representative wisely.

We touched a little on this subject already. The more important the customer is, the more attention he should get. 

For example, Detractors from the Soulmate RFM group should get phone calls from the head of the CX department. Following the same logic, Don Juans can be contacted via email since it’s not such a high category.

Besides the function and way of contacting, ensure your employee is knowledgeable and has experience working with you. You wouldn’t ask a new hire to deal with an important customer in the induction period, right?

You can also choose employees experienced in dealing with angry customers – people who can keep their cool, be polite, and have a natural charisma. 

Some companies use chatbots to deal with Detractors, but we wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Detractors are already annoyed, and dealing with a bot might push them over the edge.

Address negative feedback with empathy and honesty.

The person talking to Detractors should be honest and empathetic. Start the conversation with an apology and assure the customer you’re there to improve their experience. 

Detractors might be suspicious of your intentions, so ensure you’re not defensive when addressing customer complaints. 

Listen carefully and attentively, and try putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. 

Uncover more than the apparent problem.

More often than not, Detractors will have a reaction about an apparent reason. Still, the actual motive of their discontent is hidden underneath. 

It’s your job here to uncover the real issue and dive deeply into the meat of the conversation.

Don’t restrict Detractors with Yes/No questions. Instead, give them the space to vent and explain their concerns more in-depth. 

Take notes simultaneously, so you won’t forget anything in a couple of days.

Don’t promise if you can’t deliver.

If your percentage of Detractors was high before, just wait until you fail to keep your promises. 

If you can’t fix the problems or provide solutions when talking to your Detractors, don’t promise things just to ease the Detractor. Be upfront and tell them you will follow up when you find a way to solve the issue. 

Overpromises or false promises infuriate customers. The result will be the same – detractors will leave negative reviews and badmouth your business. 

In the long term, this ruins your reputation and makes the acquisition process even more challenging and expensive.

Make Detractors feel valued. 

We understand that dealing with unhappy customers isn’t a pleasant activity. Some people get verbally abusive, mistreat your employees, and even threaten to leave your brand.

Fortunately, this shouldn’t happen regularly. 

Most of the time, people are disappointed and feel like you’ve deceived them by not delivering the value you promised with your marketing.

So take the time to listen and give the people the chance to vent. Explain how important it is for you to solve their issues and ensure the customer he’s valued by your business.

Most companies are afraid of contacting their Detractors, so even by just reaching out, you might already be doing better than your competitors. 


Turning NPS Detractors into Promoters is your one thing over your competition. 

Those who measure NPS but do nothing about the Voice of Customer don’t even need this metric to predict the future – they’re already on a downward trajectory regarding customer loyalty, customer retention, and customer satisfaction. 

On the other hand, when you manage to collect NPS data and act as quickly as possible, you can deflate the ticking bombs represented by unhappy customers. 

And not to be dramatic – but this bomb dismantling leads to positive WoM, increased retention rate, and better Customer Lifetime Value. 

All these combined guarantees your business’s well-being no matter what – your customers will have your back.

Frequently Asked Questions about Turning Detractors into Promoters

What are Promoters and Detractors?

Both Promoters and Detractors are respondents to your NPS Surveys. Promoters are happy customers, who scored 9 and 10 on these surveys. On the other hand, Detractors are Customers who gave you scores between 0 and 6 and are disappointed in their experience.

What is considered a Detractor?

A Detractor is a customer who gave you scores ranging between 0 and 6 to your NPS surveys. These customers are at a churn risk, as they are unhappy with their relationships with your brand.

What is a Detractor response?

A Detractor Response is your attempt at doing damage control with your NPS Detractors. When responding to Detractors, you should ask for clarifying questions, give customers the chance to express themselves, then work together to reach a solution.

What counts as a Detractor in NPS?

Any unhappy customer who gave you scores between 0 and 6 on your NPS Surveys is considered a Detractor. These customers won’t recommend you to their peers and might even leave you negative reviews and spoil your reputation.