How to Turn a Detractor into A Promoter: 4 Master Tips

While happy customer feedback is an awesome thing, you won’t always have customers who want to talk about your brand. Some, for whatever reason, may have negative feedback that they’re willing to share far and wide online.

These “detractors” can cause serious harm to your business…unless you know how to turn their “frowns upside down” and convert them into promoters of your brand. Here are a few ways you can nurture your unhappy customers and turn them into brand evangelists.

Brand detractor to promoter

1. Listen to Their Complaints with an Open Mind

You might get on the defensive when you read nasty survey feedback about your brand. After all, you’ve put a lot of effort into exceeding customer expectations, so how is it possible that this one individual had a negative experience with your business?

Let go of your ego and accept that, for whatever reason, this person walked away from an interaction with your brand dissatisfied enough to share their experience with you or worse yet hop on Yelp and share their experience. They may use emotional and angry language; don’t let that fuel your own emotional response.

Instead, take some time to let the complaint soak in. Get to the bottom of it. For example, if you have a restaurant and they mention the poor service given by a specific server, talk to that server to see what happened. Maybe the server was having a bad day and took it out on the customer. Maybe the customer provoked the server. Maybe the kitchen mixed up the customer’s order. Whatever the case, finding out what exactly happened is essential for the next step.

2. Acknowledge and Apologize

Now that you have some clarity around the situation — or at the very least, cooled down from your initial hotheaded response — it’s time to rectify the situation. Start by publicly apologizing. Remember the mantra: “the customer is always right.”

Even if you found out that the customer provoked the nasty situation, you must be willing to take the fall. Most of the time, simply being acknowledged is enough to cool down irate customers. An apology will go one step further to soothing ruffled feathers.

3. Now Make It Right

You don’t just want to calm this upset detractor. You also want to convert them to becoming a promoter: someone who loves your brand and will tell everyone how great you are. To get there, you’ll need to give a little. Offer a free product or meal so that they can try your brand again. If that fails, offer a full refund, no questions asked.

If the detractor comes back into your place of business, try to be the one who interacts with them. Go out of your way to show how sorry you are, and make them feel welcome. Also, if they gave specific feedback let them know how you have addressed this feedback. Again, it doesn’t take much to win over a customer if you do this.

Once you are assured that this second experience with your company was more positive than the first, send out a 2nd survey to check the pulse of the detractor. If the detractor posted an angry Yelp review ask them to update this public review. You’re not asking them to delete the initial angry one, but rather update it to reflect how your brand worked to solve the problem. This shows anyone reading the feedback how willing you are to make customers happy.

Happy local business customer
photo credit: Mister G.C. / Flickr

4. Nurture the Relationship

Whether they updated the review or not, you want to foster a relationship with this former detractor to fully win them over. Offer them exclusive coupons or invite them to VIP events. If you can connect on social media, share their updates and respond to them. Your goal is to show that you value them as a customer and as an individual. Few brands go to the trouble, so before you know it, you will have a promoter on your hands!

Negative feedback can be hard to swallow, but when you nurture the customer relationship correctly, detractors can become some of your best promoters. There’s no substitute for great customer service! Keep these tips in mind when dealing with negative feedback and you’ll be sure to turn some frowns upside-down.