Swaying The “Swing” States

In 2016, the United States held its last Presidential Election. It was a hotly contested election and lines were drawn between “Red” and “Blue” States, and then there were the “Swing” states.

I happened to be working in the MaritzCX office in Toledo, Ohio in October of that year. As I interacted with some of my colleagues, they would say things like, “I’ll be glad when this election is over.”

They were tired of the endless phone calls, door solicitors and other polls and political advertising that had taken over the airwaves.

Ohio was considered to be a “Swing” state, and the definition of a Swing state at the time was a state whose population was neither “Red” (Republican) or “Blue” (Democrat). Each candidate, it was thought, had an equal chance to garner the majority of the coveted votes.

The politicians focused their media campaigns in these states, knowing that the dollars they invested in the swing states, had a better chance of yielding success.

In Utah, where I live, the state was “Red” leaning, therefore we rarely saw any political ads, and if we did, they weren’t “Blue.” Therefore, each party invested their money where it would yield the greatest impact.

So, how exactly does this equate with the Customer Experience?

The 3 Types of Survey Respondents

Generally speaking, regardless of the metric you use (CSAT, NPS, OSAT, etc.) the survey respondents land into one of these three areas:

  • Promoters: Loyal customers who are likely to refer others
  • Passives: Customers who are neither satisfied, nor disappointed
  • Detractors: Customers who did not like your product or service at all

So basically, the survey metrics follow a “Political Framework.”

In many instances, detractors receive the main focus of most CX programs. But in reality, the effort may be in vain because they are the least responsive, as far as being able to change or advance to be a passive or a promoter.

In a study conducted by Dr. David Whitlark for the American Plastics Council (APC), it was discovered that a campaign aimed at improving customer engagement (in their case, the love of plastic) was far more successful when the council “…viewed the passives through the eyes of the promoters.”

Rather than focusing on things like recycling or using plastic for water bottles (which brought a double edged awareness to plastic) they focused on the benefits, the use of plastic in hospitals, protection in helmets, filtration systems for water, and the list goes on.

As Whitlark explained to me once, “We chose to deal with the detractors quietly, but the passives were our opportunity group.”

Meaning, there’s more leeway with the passives because they’re the group that can be most influenced, since they neither liked or disliked the company. The passives are like the swing states, they could go either way depending on the effort that customer experience teams put into gauging their interest.

Leveraging the Leeway Yields Success

The funny thing was that even without focusing on the detractors, a large percentage (roughly 10 million households) moved from detractors to passive, and some even to promoters. And the number of promoters actually doubled!

Politicians know better than to spend money where they are rejected. (In Utah, I don’t remember seeing any democratic presidential advertisement in 2016).

Rather, they put the money into the swing states and project the message of the promoters. They put their efforts where it would make the biggest impact.

Address the passives through the eyes of the promoters, and watch as your promoters grow. It works in politics, and it will work with your CX program.