Turning Detractors into Champions: Embracing the Power of Opposition

March 20, 2024

The lifeblood of any thriving business is customer feedback, serving as a compass guiding strategic decisions and fueling continuous improvement. In today’s hypercompetitive market, where customer preferences evolve rapidly, harnessing feedback has become imperative for sustaining growth and fostering customer loyalty. Customer feedback offers invaluable insights into product performance, service quality, and overall customer satisfaction, enabling businesses to identify strengths, rectify weaknesses, and innovate to meet evolving needs.

Moreover, by actively soliciting and attentively responding back to feedback, companies demonstrate their commitment to customer-centricity, fostering trust and enhancing brand reputation. In essence, leveraging customer feedback is not just a best practice, it is a strategic imperative for businesses looking to stay agile, relevant, and ahead of the curve in an ever-evolving marketplace.

Understanding that customer feedback is multi-dimensional is crucial for effective follow-up and collaboration. Customers typically fall into three main categories: promoters, neutrals, and detractors, each offering distinct insights into their experience. While promoters highlight strengths and opportunities for amplification, neutrals provide a chance for refinement, and detractors signal areas needing urgent attention.

By categorizing feedback in this way, businesses can tailor their response strategies, nurturing promoters, addressing neutrals’ concerns, and proactively resolving detractors’ issues. This approach not only enhances customer satisfaction but also fosters collaboration between businesses and their clientele, driving mutual growth and success.

Some questions you should ask yourself:

Who are your detractors?
How can we improve their journey with us?
Where are we excelling?
How can we replicate it in other areas?

Now let’s walk through some areas of collaboration with all three feedback groups.

1. Promoters.

Referral Programs: Encourage promoters to refer friends, family, or colleagues to the business in exchange for rewards or incentives. By leveraging the positive experiences of promoters, companies can expand their customer base organically while rewarding loyal customers for their advocacy.

User-Generated Content: Invite promoters to share their experiences through testimonials, reviews, or user-generated content on social media platforms, websites, or marketing materials. This authentic content will not only serve as social proof but also amplify the positive sentiment surrounding the brand, influencing potential customers.

Exclusive Events or Beta Testing: Offer promoters exclusive access to new product launches, beta testing opportunities, or special events. This not only makes promoters feel valued and appreciated but also fosters a sense of exclusivity, encouraging them to share their experiences with their networks.

Feedback Loops: Create channels for ongoing communication and feedback with promoters, such as focus groups, advisory panels, or feedback surveys. By actively involving promoters in the product development process, companies can ensure that future iterations align with customer expectations and preferences, enhancing overall satisfaction and loyalty.

Partnership and Collaborations: Explore partnerships with complementary businesses or influencers that resonate with the values and interests of promoters. Collaborative campaigns or co-branded initiatives can leverage the credibility and reach of both parties, amplifying the message and extending the brand’s reach to new audiences.

Community Building: Foster a sense of community among promoters by creating dedicated forums, online groups, or events where they can connect, share experiences, and engage with one another. By nurturing a community of brand advocates, companies can harness the collective power of promoters to amplify their message, drive engagement, and foster a sense of belonging.

2. Neutrals.

Feedback and Improvement Programs: Engage neutral customers in feedback programs, such as surveys or focus groups, to gather insights into areas of improvement. By actively listening to their feedback and implementing changes based on their suggestions, companies can demonstrate their commitment to meeting customers’ needs and preferences, potentially converting neutral customers into promoters.

Exclusive Offers or Trials: Offer neutral customers exclusive discounts, trials, or early access to new products or services. Providing incentives can encourage neutral customers to re-engage with the brand and potentially become more enthusiastic advocates if they have a positive experience.

Educational Content and Resources: Provide neutral customers with valuable educational content, tutorials, or resources related to the product or services they have shown interest in. By helping them better understand the benefits and features of the offering, companies can empower neutral customers to make more informed purchasing decisions and potentially become advocates.

Personalized Recommendations: Utilize data-driven personalization techniques to offer neutral customers tailored recommendations and suggestions based on their past interactions and preferences. By delivering relevant and timely offers, companies can increase the likelihood of engaging neutral customers and fostering a more positive perception of the brand.

Customer Engagement Initiatives: Create opportunities for neutral customers to engage with the brand through interactive experiences, such as contests, challenges, or user-generated content campaigns. Encouraging participation can help neutral customers feel more connected to the brand and motivated to share their experiences with others.

Customer Co-Creation Projects: Collaborate with neutral customers on co-creation projects or idea generation initiatives, where they can contribute their insights and suggestions for new product features, services, or improvements. Involving customers in the innovation process can not only result in valuable ideas but also strengthen their sense of ownership and loyalty toward the brand.

3. Detractors.

Personalized Resolution Processes: Reach out to detractors individually to understand their specific concerns and experiences. Offer personalized solutions or resolutions tailored to their needs and preferences. By demonstrating attentiveness and a willingness to address their issues, companies can begin to rebuild trust and confidence.

Feedback and Improvement Programs: Invite detractors to participate in feedback programs or surveys to provide candid insights into their dissatisfaction. Actively listen to their feedback, acknowledge shortcomings, and communicate transparently about plans for improvement. Involving detractors in the improvement process can help rebuild trust and demonstrate a commitment to addressing their concerns.

Apology and Service Recovery Initiatives: Apologize sincerely for any negative experiences or shortcomings that may have led to detractors’ dissatisfaction. Offer service recovery initiatives, such as refunds, discounts, or complimentary products or services, as a gesture of goodwill. Demonstrating accountability and a commitment to making things right can help rebuild confidence and repair damaged relationships.

Follow-up Communication and Support: Maintain ongoing communication with detractors to keep them informed about progress on resolving their issues or implementing feedback-driven improvements. Provide dedicated support channels or contacts for detractors to reach out with any further concerns or feedback. By demonstrating a commitment to ongoing support and responsiveness, companies can rebuild trust and confidence over time. This may seem very overwhelming, but an organized approach will work wonders and does not require a large team to undertake. I personally have done this for a fortune 500 company multiple times across multiple business units, and it truly was one of the most rewarding projects!

Transparency and Accountability: Be transparent about actions taken in response to detractors’ feedback and concerns. Share updates on improvements or changes made based on their input and be accountable for any mistakes or shortcomings. Transparency can help rebuild trust and confidence by demonstrating a commitment to integrity and continuous improvement.

Opportunities for Reconciliation: Offer detractors opportunities to revisit their experiences with the brand under improved circumstances. Provide incentives or special offerings to encourage detractors to give the brand another chance. By demonstrating willingness to reconcile and make amends, companies can foster a sense of goodwill and potentially win back detractors as loyal customers.


By actively engaging customers, listening to their feedback, and demonstrating a genuine commitment to improvement and service, companies can build trust, confidence, and positive relationships over time. The biggest opportunity companies have is with the customers who are detractors, with personalized customer experience being a key driver behind customer decisions now is the time to act!

Turning detractors into champions: Embracing the power of opposition

This is a guest blog by Jennifer Susinski, member of the Advocacy Mavens Coalition.

The Advocacy Mavens Coalition is an association of open for contracting customer-led professionals, each with extensive industry experience. We’re experts in building advocacy and community programs, designing experiences, running advisory boards, creating content, managing and migrating platforms, and more.

Our members are experienced advocacy marketing strategists, community and customer success managers, educators, designers, video producers, analysts, and technical consultants. Whatever your program goals, this coalition has you covered!

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