Net Promoter Score October 11, 2017 4 min read by Alex

How Much Time Do You Have Until a Detractor Leaves? (Not So Much!)

How Much Time Do You Have Until a Detractor Leaves? (Not So Much!)

When a customer gives a Detractor score in your NPS® survey, how long do you have until he leaves?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, from your responsiveness to your ability to connect with the customer, solve his problems and improve the experience with your product.

In this post, we’ll explain how long you have to act in order to retain a customer when you receive a low likelihood to recommend score. We’ll also share simple strategies that you can use to convert Detractors into Passives and Promoters to keep as many customers as possible.

There’s no ‘industry standard’ Detractor cancellation time

When one of your customers leaves a Detractor score, it’s a reliable sign that they’re at least considering giving up your product or service. However, there’s no ‘industry standard’ time to cancel that you can use to work out how long you have until a detractor leaves.

Most Detractors fit into one of several categories:

  • They’ve already decided to cancel and want you to know why.
  • They’re frustrated with your product and are actively researching and considering the best alternatives, but haven’t yet decided to cancel.
  • Certain aspects or a single interaction with your product or service have disappointed them, but they still think your product or service has potential and want to help you improve it.
  • They use your product out of necessity and aren’t actively considering switching to an alternative, but want to voice their complaints and criticism.

Not all Detractors fit into these categories, but you can use them to segment many of your customers based on their feedback. Most of the time, customers in the first category — Detractors that have already decided to cancel — will leave the soonest.

Retaining these customers can be a serious challenge — one that simply isn’t possible for most brands. As the saying goes, once a customer has made up their mind to cancel, “they’re already out the door.”

Detractors that fit into the other three categories, however, usually won’t rush to cancel as soon as possible.

When you notice a Detractor score, it’s important to pay just as much attention to the feedback as the score. A quick analysis of a customer’s feedback can give you a far more accurate idea of their likelihood to cancel than their Likelihood to Recommend score.

How to win back Detractors and improve retention

Even if a Detractor doesn’t show the warning signs of immediate cancellation, it’s still important to listen to their feedback and close the customer feedback loop.

One important step in winning back Detractors and avoiding cancellations is acting as quickly as possible. When you see a low LTR score, act immediately by reaching out to the customer to let them know you’re listening:

  • If they provide specific reasons for their low score, acknowledge them and let them know that you’re aware of the problem(s) and that they’re not being ignored.
  • If you’re working on a solution, tell the customer. Many Detractors are willing to give your business time to improve its product, and letting them know that you’re actively working on a solution is often enough to avoid a cancellation request and keep them onboard.
  • Let them know what’s going on. If your product update is several months away, let them know that it’s coming in the near future. If you have an exact date for a bug fix or a new feature, mention it in your response so that they’re completely aware.
  • Thank them for pointing out the problem. Feedback is valuable, and even a frustrated customer appreciates being told that they’re playing a part in helping you improve your offering.

The above recommendations depend on the customer providing a reason for their low score. If a customer leaves a low score but doesn’t provide feedback, reach out to learn why they gave your product or service a low score and figure out how you can provide a solution.

Retently, by the way, gives you the possibility to set and send automated follow-up messages to customers that did not leave additional text feedback.

Types of Detractors
Types of Detractors

Provide a solution, not just acknowledgement

When responding to feedback from a Detractor, your ultimate goal should always be to provide a solution.

Even the unhappiest of Detractors can be won back and retained. After all, Detractors bought your product or service in the first place, showing that your business has real value to provide, as long as it’s provided correctly.

One way to offer a solution is to look at analytics data for each customer before responding. In our guide to offering a solution to Detractors, we recommend using analytics data to locate the point at which each customer’s engagement began to decline.

Detractors often give up on products after running into bottlenecks, such as confusing interface pages or features that aren’t available without a more expensive subscription. Offering a special discount, a free upgrade or even a quick personal call is often enough to avoid losing their business.

Great service can win back almost any Detractor

In our guide to companies with the highest Net Promoter Scores, we discovered that the world’s most successful brands don’t just aim to satisfy their customers, but to “wow” them with service that goes above and beyond their expectations.

Amazon is famous for refunding even the smallest balances when customers purchase a certain product before a sale. Apple consistently tops best-of lists for its support by overdelivering on its assistance to customers.

By acting quickly and providing a solution, you can win back almost any Detractor and improve your retention rate, all while reducing lost revenue and avoiding the high churn that can affect a large number of SaaS and other subscription businesses.

Even if you don’t win back every Detractor, acting quickly and showing that you care can help you avoid the other negative effects of unhappy customers, such as negative product reviews and public feedback in message board posts and blog comments.

Remember, there’s no ‘industry standard’ time to cancellation that your business can depend on to respond to detractors. Act quickly and provide a solution and you’ll notice an improvement in your retention rate and fewer cancellations; fail to act and you’ll notice far more.

Start using NPS to retain customers and improve your business

Retently makes connecting with your customers and generating real, honest feedback easy by sending a simple one-question Net Promoter Score survey. Learn more about how NPS works and start your free trial now to start surveying your customers.


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