If you use Net Promoter Score (NPS) to keep tabs on customer happiness, then you know how painful a low score can feel. While NPS is a valuable customer experience metric, it also opens you up to a lot of criticism from detractors, or customers who give you a score of 6 or below.

It’s the feedback no one likes to get: this person would definitely not refer business to you. But it’s also one of the best ways to suss out customers who need your immediate attention.

how to use nps

When customers are unhappy, they don’t keep it to themselves. Around 95% will share a negative experience with others. That means one bad customer experience can have a loud echo, damaging your brand reputation and deterring potential business.

Here’s a 4-step process for handling detractors and safeguarding your brand.

Step 1: Acknowledge their feedback

Nearly half of your detractors will leave your company within 90 days if you don’t do anything about it. Some will go silently, while others will kick up dust on their way out. Either way, if you don’t address their issues quickly, it’ll only add fuel to the fire.

When you receive negative feedback, first pause and assess the situation. Is this a quick fix or a bigger problem? If it’s the latter, follow up as soon as possible with a personal note acknowledging their feedback. Your response should:

  • Explain why you’re contacting them
  • Restate the issue, so they know you understand
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Assure them you want to reach a solution

You don’t have to offer solutions just yet—you’re simply showing the customer that you feel their pain and are committed to making things better.

If you don’t have the bandwidth to respond to customer feedback immediately, try setting up an auto-acknowledgement email specifically for detractor feedback. This gets the resolution process rolling. Then, you can follow up with a more personalized message.

Step 2: Get to the heart of the issue

Next, do your homework. Find as many details as possible before jumping into resolution mode or asking for more info. Review the customer’s case history, read prior feedback, and talk to your team. If they’ve spoken to someone before, you can gain a lot of context from chatting with that agent or rep. The last thing you want to do is make an angry detractor restate their issue over and over again.

Once you have the information you need, determine how you’ll approach the customer. This is where a protocol sheet comes in handy. This document could include:

  1. Pre-approved responses to questions/messages of any kind (just be sure these don’t sound cookie-cutter; make them human)
  2. A list of the most common issues and steps on how to proceed
  3. Contact information of departments that may need to be involved (e.g. PR, HR, sales, etc.)

Once you know what steps to take, relay the information back to the customer as clearly and Dealing with angry customers can be difficult, but stay professional and focus on reaching a resolution, not battling out.

Step 3: Improve the customer relationship

You may have resolved the issue at hand, but that doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet.

How do you ensure that the customer doesn’t take their business elsewhere?

  • Follow up with the customer after the resolution to make sure they’re still satisfied.
  • Give the customer a discount code for their next purchase or a break on their subscription.
  • Send the customer a note from the CEO of the company, thanking them for their business.

It’s also important to reflect on each situation and determine if it’s part of a larger recurring issue. If you’re noticing a trend with a certain type of problem, it may be time to rethink certain processes, products, or aspects of your business. This way, you can do everything in your power to prevent an issue from happening again.

Step 4: Prevent other customers from becoming detractors

How do you make sure your customers are satisfied from the get-go?

Reducing the opportunity for mistakes to arise is the first step.

  • When launching a new product or service, walk through the process as if you were a customer. This is a great way for you to identify weak points in the process and fix them before a customer brings it to your attention.
  • Providing customers with a monitored forum to share their experience—the good and bad—is also another method you can use to determine what works and what doesn’t.
  • Use surveys to monitor customer satisfaction. GetFeedback customers can seamlessly collect customer feedback using on-brand surveys, then map the responses to Salesforce. From there, it’s easy to set up alerts and follow-up workflows so the right team is notified and you can take action right away.

The dos and don’ts of dealing with detractors

To sum all that up, here’s a quicklist to follow when unhappy customers come knocking.


  • Address feedback in a timely manner (ideally 24 hours or less)
  • Be polite and professional
  • Gain context before jumping in
  • Have a resolution plan in place (and adhere to it)
  • Follow up once the situation is resolved
  • Take steps to prevent similar events from occurring in the future


  • Minimize the issue
  • Take it personally or get defensive
  • Tell the customer they are wrong
  • Ask repetitive questions or questions you can answer yourself
  • Make promises you can’t keep


While you can’t stop every customer from taking their complaints public, you can give people more opportunities to share their feedback privately. By seeking out their input, you’ll prevent customers from taking to social media and review sites to air out their frustrations.

The simplest way to armor yourself against detractors is to engage them. By asking for their opinions and seeking out negative feedback proactively, you create more opportunities for dialogue.

Tuff Shed saw a 50% decrease in negative Yelp ratings after launching a customer survey program with GetFeedback. On top of that, their positive reviews skyrocketed—they saw a whopping 292% increase in 5-star ratings. By engaging their customers, they improved customer satisfaction and elevated their brand.

If handled correctly and in a timely manner, these situations can be flipped into positive, relationship-building scenarios that result in brand advocacy, increased loyalty, and referrals.