What is a Detractor?

A detractor is a customer who is highly dissatisfied with a business and may engage in behavior that harms the business financially. For example, detractors often write bad reviews, criticize brands on social media, and tell friends and family not to buy from the company.

In addition to negative word-of-mouth activities, detractors impact the bottom line in other ways. Detractors turn over at high rates – they often make just one purchase before they churn, making for a less profitable relationship. They make fewer purchases and are more price sensitive than satisfied customers. Detractors can also be more expensive to serve because they are inclined to contact customer service. All-in-all, detractors are a drag on business growth.

Detractors are identified by their Net Promoter Scores® (NPS®). A Net Promoter survey asks one simple but insightful question: “How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?” Customers answer the question using a 0-10 scale where zero means not at all likely. Anyone whose response is zero through six is a detractor.

To lessen the negative financial impact of detractors and recoup their acquisition and service costs, companies should focus on turning detractors into promoters (the other end of the NPS spectrum). Unlike detractors, promoters are highly satisfied customers that recommend businesses and products to friends and colleagues. To change negative perceptions, organizations should focus on optimizing CX and the customer journey. In particular, businesses should close the loop with individual detractors and address their grievances with positive action.

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