Nurturing neutral customers
In a recent post, I gave some advice on Three Ways to Handle Your Haters, which is a touchy subject and one that needs to be addressed with great delicacy (or risk irritating them even more). But what about the customers who give you neutral or mid-level survey scores (or Passive responses on the NPS)? Can they be transformed into fans (or Promoters, again using NPS terminology)?
One thing is for sure: this group of customers is the most mysterious and the most difficult to get to know. Their answers often don’t provide the types of insights that you get from very satisfied or very unsatisfied respondents — the groups most likely to provide strong opinions and written comments that clearly show where you’re doing well or where you really need to tighten up the experience. Neutrals are the least likely to add extra feedback via Comments boxes or similar channels.
Because they’re technically “satisfied” you need to be very specific in asking for further feedback. This is the group that will simply say “yes” when you inquire if they’re happy. Research shows that only 4% of dissatisfied customers complain. People generally don’t like conflict and your Neutrals certainly don’t, so you’ll have to dig a little deeper to extract meaningful input from them.
What can you do to mine your neutral customers for further information, perhaps even nurturing them toward becoming very satisfied? Here are three tips to drive that transition:
- Direct Outreach Campaign: Segment feedback data to isolate your list of Neutrals. Depending on what methodologies you use, you’ll need to determine what constitutes neutral feedback for your organization. If you’re using NPS, just grab all your Passives. Develop an outreach campaign that includes a short, very polite email asking for further insights from the last survey they completed. Let them know that they’ll also be receiving a call from a Customer Service or Success agent to follow up. You can use a call script in Clicktools for agents to dive deeper into areas ripe for improvement. You can ask questions such as “What should we change or add to make you really love our product?” and “What one thing could we do to make us easier to do business with?”
- Verify Value: One common trait among neutral customers is the sentiment that they’re not getting enough value from your product(s). They like them enough to remain paying customers, but they’re not enthusiastic and could easily be swayed to a competitor if the right opportunity presented itself. Consider surveying your Neutrals specifically on the subject of value — and that doesn’t exclusively mean monetary value, by the way. The perception of value can be increased by enabling a Passive customer to get better understanding and knowledge of your product or expand how they utilize it. “Are you getting enough value for the money you spend with us?” is a good thing to ask but so is “What services can we provide to help you get more value out of your investment?”
- Address the Ambivalence: As an organization, you can create programs that nurture neutral customers at various points in the journey. Beyond the direct outreach mentioned above which focuses on feedback surveys and capturing insights with call scripts, you can also develop targeted marketing and sales campaigns for this group. The goal is to lead them down specific paths that increase engagement. By all means, please them with personalized communications and show you’re paying attention!
“Since passive customers are on the fence, the technique here is to go above and beyond the call of duty and show exceptional service. If you have free swag (stickers, t-shirt, etc.), passives are the ones who you want to give it to. If you can comp a free upgrade or give them a free up-sell, that will often be the kind of thing that will turn a passive into a promoter. Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit and Hipmunk, for example sent out luggage tags and handwritten notes to people and created a lot of fans and goodwill this way” (Inc.com).
Remember, they’re not the squeaky wheel types who regularly clamor for attention and outreach. By going the extra mile for your Passives, you may be surprised at how many you can convert to become very satisfied repeat buyers and even advocates.