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How To: 4 Steps to Closing the Loop from Detractor to Promoter

“Turn that frown upside down!” That’s an industry phrase, right?

A Net Promoter Score® gauges the customer loyalty of a brand when scoring them on a scale of 1-10. Those who score a brand 0-6 are considered detractors, 7-8 are passives, and 9-10 are promoters. The latter are pumped about your business while the detractors are usually passionately annoyed about their experience with your brand. Passives, well they could do with or without you.

While every business would much rather have a slew of 5-star ratings and only glorious praise, that’s not reality. Assuming a business is performing well, they will most likely still get some low loyalty scores in the ones and twos. Or a customer could dock a business for a specific point along the client journey via private feedback, signifying to the company that something is wrong; and that problem could be occurring with other customers, too.

So how can you close the loop from detractor to promoter? There are a few things that can be done.


How To: 4 Steps to Closing the Loop from Detractor to Promoter

Encourage Feedback . . . ALL the Feedback (every customer’s got an opinion!)

For the most part, customer praise is the preferred conversation of businesses, but as we mentioned earlier, that’s not always going to be the case. On average, 27% of reviews left on Yelp are negative. 16% of Google reviews are negative and 18% on SuperPages are negative, according to the 2018 State of Online Reviews. No one likes to hear that their baby is ugly, but that’s the kind of truth that helps businesses grow and improve.

Negative online reviews are forever, so don’t ignore them. Instead, dig deeper. Take a deep breath and take the time to understand exactly what the issue is. Even more challenging, don’t respond with a knee-jerk reaction, bombasting the customer with retaliatory remarks—that surely won’t turn the situation around.

Ask for more. Ask for details and investigate. Of course, some may be bogus, maybe someone just ranting or letting life’s problems seep into their review. Those can be vetted out. Reviews conveying actual kinks in your client’s journey, those are the ones that are important.

One CXL article about this topic suggests that “emotional arousal” is at play in online reviews. Emotional arousal is the idea that people are very emotional at either either end of the mood spectrum (happy/angry). It argues that passives are the most difficult to convert to promoters. Detractors at least have passion and something to say, along with energy that can be directed towards positivity with the right actions. However, a passive may not care either way and is therefore more difficult to guide one way or another.

Don’t give up, though. Pry and pry. Follow up with emails or phone calls and provide the contact information of someone at the company, preferably someone high up like an owner, CEO or other executive, so the customer knows that their voice is being heard.


How To: 4 Steps to Closing the Loop from Detractor to Promoter

Sharing is Caring

According to the 2017 State of Customer Feedback, only 5% of customers are unwilling to return to a brand after they’ve had an issue with them. 33% just want some sort of resolution while 9% just want someone to listen and respond.

So, respond and let that customer know that you are doing everything you can to get them through this issue.

First off, empathize:

“We are sorry you had such a poor experience, we understand how frustrating that can be.”


“That’s awful and not at all how we want our customers to be treated.”


“We’ve been there with other brands before, and we’re sorry. That’s not at all what our company stands for.”

Once you’ve gone through the steps of analyzing the feedback and understanding what it means for your business and the client journey, let them know what you plan on doing differently.

“Like we said, the experience you had with [business name] is not exemplary. As a result, we’ve taken your feedback to heart and decided to make some changes.


First off, we’re firing the employee that helped you. They were having a bad day, but they should not have yelled at you.


Secondly, we’ll be sending all of our employees through a retraining to make sure they understand our company values and how customers should be treated.


Thirdly, managers have been instructed to scrutinize their employees and address any similar issues.”


Communicate with them effectively via the most appropriate lines of communication. For example, maybe a customer leaves a negative review on your Facebook page. Start there:

We are so sorry to hear you had such a negative experience—that is not the way we like to do things around here. I’m the manager, Johnson Flohnson. Please give me a call at 555-8012 or email me at Flohnson@business.com. I look forward to figuring out how we can fix this!

If the detractor was discovered via personal survey, use targeted questions to get more information about their experience:

We’re so sorry to hear that your experience with us stunk! We never want that to happen. We want to make sure everyone’s experience is exceptional. We’d love a change to fix this for you and future customers, would you mind telling us in detail what happened?

Open those lines of communication. Empathize. Be honest and genuine. Let them know how they’ve helped your organization change.



How To: 4 Steps to Closing the Loop from Detractor to Promoter

Invite Them for a ReDo

Once the air has been cleared with the detractor, or an attempt has been made, invite them for a redo. Invite them to come in again for another haircut, try your handyman force out one more time, or come in for a second swim lesson. You can even go as far as to offer a discounted or a free session/appointment.

If they’ve written a negative public review about their experience with your brand and you offer the type of service that someone may only use once a year, ask them if they’d be willing to update their review once the situation has been resolved. And if they DO come back for another try with your brand, ask them to update the review.

Of course, if the customer hasn’t posted a review but they’ve mentioned in private customer feedback about their crummy experience, ask that they return for a chance to prove that you can provide an exemplary customer experience.


How To: 4 Steps to Closing the Loop from Detractor to Promoter

Follow Up, Follow Up

Follow up with them continually, for as long as you can but make sure not to get annoying or else you’ll surely lose them.

Ultimately, make sure loose ends are tied up and don’t leave a detractor hanging. In an ideal world we’ll turn every detractor and even passive customer into a lifelong customer and promoter. Keep this goal in mind. However, in the end, even the best goalies miss from time to time.

Follow up until you know for sure the customer has either turned promoter or that they aren’t coming back.

One more thing to remember in all of this is to thank your loyal customer base. Praise the promoters by thanking them for their business and support. And stay positive: detractors and passive customers are not lost causes. With the right steps, they can turn into lifelong customers.


Matthew Van Deventer

Matthew Van Deventer is a content creator for WebPunch. As a dealer of words he dabbles in journalism and loves a good story, whatever the medium. Matthew lives outside of Denver, CO with his wife, daughter, and pup, Chewy.