How to handle detractors and convert them to promoters?


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The first step towards identifying your detractors would be to record customer feedback across multiple channels(email, social media, SMS, calls, etc) and deploy an NPS tool to assess your customer split between promoters, detractors, and passives.

Post that, start by assessing a customer’s journey and map it to the relevant internal operations necessary. This is one of the core steps in setting up what I have termed as a detractor handling process.

Setting up a detractor defense process can become an important differentiator – an opportunity where your business practices can be remembered for good.

So, how can your organization set up a detractor handling process that can be institutionalized for years to come?

It’s not just about introducing tools and measuring metrics; the process should consider holistically about

  • Setting up or updating the internal processes as per the various customer journeys
  • Setting up or updating a comprehensive feedback ecosystem that measures critical customer sentiments
  • Humanizing detractor interactions

Let’s start with setting up or updating the internal processes as per the customer(rather detractor) journeys :

Most businesses deal with detractors in a very reactionary manner and make decisions on a case-to-case basis rather than setting a process around it. Let’s take the same example of a food aggregator business dealing with a detractor.

In a traditional setting, most businesses would expect their call center team to deal with irate customers, handle their complaints and document them for future training purposes. But the resolution may not end there.

What if the irate customer spreads negative news about the brand on social media, leaving reviews across Twitter, Facebook, Reddit and may further negatively influence his/her network against your brand.

If a business keeps taking reactionary measures, they may not have enough time to make relevant changes in the complaint handling process.

Instead, with a small assessment of its customer journey, an organization can identify the likelihood of

  • receiving complaints across multiple channels,
  • provide sufficient self-service resolution options,
  • set up an instant reward incentive to avoid churn,
  • arrange a follow-up call to understand the concern or
  • automate a comprehensive email journey to keep the unhappy customer posted about their issue resolution.

Assess your customer journey, plan the requisite follow-up process and measure the relevant metrics:

  • Break down the customer experience as per your product category and create an unpleasant journey matrix on the similar lines that you would test a product: one can start by creating a simple document that lists two columns on the different product/service usage scenarios and what could go wrong that could lead to a customer complaint.
  • Map the current internal operations to handle these unpleasant journeys. Call out the relevant metrics to assess for each of the team handling these detractor journeys, such as unnecessary wait times or delays in communication.
  • Allot a priority matrix to the detractors. These journeys should be defined based on the type of products and the different touchpoints that are made available to the customer.
  • Assess the entire detractor handling process and track improvement in metrics such as NPS(net promoter scores), customer satisfaction scores, customer effort scores, wait times to handle a detractor’s complaint, email follow up times, call-back timelines, etc.
  • Keep improving the detractor handling metrics and institutionalize this detractor defense process.
  • The next measure would be to set up an ecosystem of tools that measures the metrics and the impact of your initiatives to handle different types of complaints and feedback from your detractors. In simple words,


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