You’ve heard of NPS. The one metric that shows customer satisfaction and gives you a glimpse into the future: 

will this person recommend my business to their friends?

But measuring isn’t enough. For effective customer experience management, you need to remember that behind every NPS response, there’s a real person with their own fears, needs, anxieties, and little victories. 

We get so wrapped up in metrics and KPIs that we sometimes forget people aren’t numbers. Consequently, customer churn is increasing, and we have no idea why.

So, let’s correct this wrong and deep dive into the people behind the NPS: the Promoters, the Passives, and the Detractors. 

Read this guide and learn more about each group, how to keep them happy, fix their problems, and move them into better categories.  

What Are Promoters, Passives, and Detractors?

Mind you, we’ll just summarize the topic. To get more in-depth information on the NPS, read our Ultimate Guide on NPS. It contains all the information you need. 

The Net Promoter Score represents a metric that shows you the % of your customers who are willing to recommend your brand to their communities. 

To uncover this percentage, you need to send out NPS Surveys to your customers at two critical moments in the customer journey: pre and post-delivery. These surveys ask your customers to rate their experience with your brand.

The feedback surveys and questions will vary depending on your intent. However, the typical NPS scale ranges from 0 to 10: zero is the lowest score, while ten is the highest.

These scores then segment your customers into Promoters, Passives, and Detractors. 

Promoters, Passives, and Detractors represent customers who provide NPS feedback based on their experience with your company.

NPS Promoters

Your Promoters are customers who scored 9-10 in their satisfaction surveys.

These customers are your bread and butter since they can become loyal customers with plenty of repeat purchases and even brand ambassadors.

It’s in your interest to keep these customers happy and engaged since they can bring in new customers and drive your business further in the future. 

With Promoters, you can ask further questions to identify the actual value of your business and adapt your marketing strategy accordingly. 

NPS Passives 

Passives are customers who gave you 7-8 scores. They had a “not great, not terrible experience” with your brand. They didn’t hate buying from you but weren’t exactly blown away – neither by the shopping experience nor by the quality of your products. 

There isn’t a lot of emphasis on Passives out there. However, you should take care of this segment. Left unchecked, Passives can either abandon your brand or drop to the Detractors category. 

The safest bet with Passives is asking a further question to identify what’s missing from experience. Figuring out what you lack can help you provide better experiences for this segment in the future. 

NPS Detractors

Detractors gave you scores ranging between 0 and 6 in their satisfaction surveys, affecting your retention rates. 

This means they faced a negative experience – in the shopping stage, the delivery process, or even the quality of your products. It’s also improbable that these people will return and buy from you again.

NPS Detractors are a dangerous segment and need to be approached cautiously. Not only will they churn, but they can also bad-mouth you, leave you poor reviews, and cause a loss of business. 

Dealing with NPS Detractors is a must; firstly, you need to identify the reasons behind their poor experiences, then fix the problems as soon as possible.  

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How Do You Identify Passive, Promoter, and Detractor Customers?

The old-school, tiresome, and even depressing approach to understanding customer happiness would be to read your company’s reviews across all channels. 

After you read them, the next step would be to link each positive and negative review with the customer who left it. 

Obviously, this isn’t a sustainable way to identify each segment. 

The most straightforward approach is to send out feedback surveys pre and post-delivery. After sending the surveys, you need to perform survey analysis and identify the percentage of each group: Passive, Promoter, or Detractor. 

Suppose your goal is to gather as many customer insights as possible. In that case, you will need to go further than just the fundamental scoring question. Each score should be followed by an open-ended question, allowing customers to verbalize their issues and expand on their scoring.

Your NPS score then allows you to identify Promoters, Passives, and Detractors:

  • Promoters scored highest, 
  • Detractors the lowest, 
  • and Passives are stuck in between.

Using survey tools to collect NPS feedback regularly allows you to identify unhappy customers who are having issues with your brand and empowers you to address these issues before they churn. 

What Are the Differences between Promoters, Passives, and Detractors?

While Net Promoter Score surveys are a fantastic tool to take the pulse on customer satisfaction, NPS scores are just the beginning in keeping your customers happy. 

Evidently, each group requires a different attitude, attention, and treatment, so let’s look at the differences between the three groups. 

The first evident difference is in the scores – there’s no point dwelling too much on the numbers.

How to deal with a Promoter?  

The crucial advice here – you shouldn’t get too comfortable with your promoters.

Yes, they are more easygoing and will definitely be more forgiving of eventual hiccups in your relationship. However, 86% of customers* will churn (even if they loved your brand) after only two disappointing customer experiences.

(*Study conducted by Emplifi in the US and UK markets)

In other words – even if they love you today, tomorrow they might leave you – with no remorse. 

So your primary concern with Promoters is keeping the standards high and the experiences consistent

So, identify the right things you have done and keep doing them so Promoters stay happy.

Additionally, you can encourage them to become brand ambassadors by offering referral bonuses and discounts. 

How to deal with a Passive?  

Passives are trickier since they don’t give you a straightforward answer. They don’t love your brand; they don’t hate your brand. 

Instead, they are “meh” about it.

The crucial step here is to identify what is lacking from Passives’ experiences

You should allow the Passives to express themselves beyond the basic rating question. Follow-up with open-ended questions and provide the space for passives to tell you what you can do better. Then, obviously, fill out the missing pieces for Passives’ next purchase.

Remember that some of them don’t care about you or your business. Some customers might have come to your business attracted by the price point or by accident. There’s a natural churn happening in this case, so you shouldn’t get discouraged. 

However, you should double down on providing better experiences and proactively solving their problems for customers who really need your products. 

Engage passives with meaningful interactions and prove that you are more than the product they bought. You are a whole experience, and they should enjoy it. 


How to deal with a Detractor?  

Detractors are dangerous customers. People are more inclined to complain than they are to praise in the first place. Feel this natural need with actual bad experiences, and you can face a potential disaster with your reputation. 

Usually, you will need two Promoters to cancel out a Detractor. So you must be on your feet with damage control to avoid losing sales AND potential sales because of Detractors. 

Firstly, you need to identify the reasons behind the bad experience. Then include the feedback in customer journey mapping to ensure you’re not making the same mistake twice. 

Then, according to each Detractor’s value, offer up perks or bonuses to mitigate the bad experience. Your goal is to stop the Detractor from churning, bad-mouthing you, or leaving negative reviews on your Social Media accounts. 

Don’t use discounts as a bribe, though. Your best option is to pay attention to your customer surveys and the reasons behind such low scoring. Understand and solve these issues – give the people what they need. 

You can also look at the scores to really understand the urgency. Those who gave you 0’s, 1’s, and even 2’s are usually furious customers with one foot out the door. Respond ASAP to their issues and address them.

The 5 and 6’s are less upset, so you might still have some wiggle room with them.

However, you shouldn’t move too slowly with them. Suppose the following experience is as bad as the first. In that case, Detractors will give even lower scores, and your reputation will take a hit because of them.

How Do You Turn a Passive into a Promoter?

You don’t need to be an influencer to influence other people. 

Your friends, family, co-workers, and whole communities can listen to your recommendations and buy something just because you did. 

Following this logic, it’s only natural that you’d want to turn your Passives into Promoters and drive more revenue from this segment, not necessarily by increasing their AOV but by acquiring new customers through customer recommendations. 

The trick here is to get them talking. Passives are not as passionate as Detractors, and they might not even care so much about your products. 

They might buy from you out of necessity, to test the waters, or even as an alternative before something better comes. 

Reason why generic emails or SMSs might not be the best way to engage this segment. 

Your safest way is to reach out with a sincere message, with direct questions, leaving no space for neutrality. 

Ask Passives what they need to become loyal customers. Some questions examples for Passives are:

  • What can we do to improve your experience?
  • What disappointed you with our products?
  • Which are your needs, and how can we meet them?

More often than not, all it takes is a human touch to start the process of converting Passives into Promoters. Evidently, after you understand where you failed, you must adapt your customer journey, so you don’t repeat your mistakes. 

Since customers have diverse needs and desires, you can’t find a universal solution for turning Passives into Promoters. 

Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong with asking for feedback, identifying problems, and focusing on improving your brand. 

How Do You Convert Detractors into Promoters? 

Fortunately, it’s not all doom and gloom – not even with Detractors. They have more in common with Promoters than you’d think, so turning NPS Detractors into Promoters might not be a complicated endeavor.  

If increasing customer loyalty is your end goal, turning Detractors into Promoters is one way of doing it.

As with Passives, the human touch will do wonders here and open the path to reconciliation.

While chatbots can help you speed up processes, they might not work with Detractors. They’re already angry with you – and talking to a bot can be pretty annoying for people who are already struggling. 

Sending out an NPS survey was a great move, to begin with – people appreciate companies that ask for feedback – and act on it.

After you receive negative feedback, try and react as quickly as possible. While you won’t be able to solve all problems overnight, you can definitely let the customers know you’ve heard them. 

Recognize their concerns, empathize, and prioritize problem-solving. If you could’ve taken a proactive approach with Passives, you must react as quickly as possible with Detractors. The higher your percentage of detractors is, the more work you need to do. 

Hearing Detractors’ concerns can help you genuinely understand pain points and provide the data you need to improve your business. 

Of course, besides listening to people’s complaints, you must also fix Detractors’ problems. And now you must be really careful not to overpromise. You already disappointed them once; you don’t want to do it again. 

If you can’t find a feasible solution to their problems, be honest and propose the next best thing (even if it means offering a complete refund). 

If handled correctly, Detractors can be your primary source of knowledge. 

Detractors’ feedback helps you improve customer experience and satisfaction. It’s more than merely enhancing the NPS as a metric – it’s about building trust and ensuring Detractors you have their best interests at heart. 

Our advice is to be sincere and open with customer feedback and do your best to solve issues. 

To be honest, a customer annoyed with you can become your biggest fan if you address their concerns correctly and quickly.

Learn and fix from your mistakes, keep your promises, empathize, and be honest, and you can’t go wrong. 


NPS is an excellent measure of whether you care about customer satisfaction and your business. 

It can show your business’s health from the POV of your most important stakeholders: the customers. 

However, simply measuring NPS is never enough – your job is to act on the feedback you’re getting and continuously improve your business. While to err it’s human, not learning from your mistakes isn’t. 

Understanding the particularities of each NPS segment and the different attitudes these groups require is the first step in getting more Promoters and keeping them happy. 

Feel free to adapt your strategies according to the reality of your business – and be as empathetic as possible when dealing with unsatisfied customers.