What Are Brand Detractors & How Should You Handle Them?

You don’t need to rely on customer surveys or online reviews to tell you why your customers are unhappy. They’re letting you know in the bidirectional conversations they have with your team every single day. This unsolicited feedback is shared in emails, chats, and phone conversations and often overlooked by leaders looking to improve brand perception and customer experience.

When customers express frustration, confusion, exasperation, or helplessness they’re raising a red flag and indicating the presence of a brand detractor. A brand detractor is a specific reason customers are unhappy with your brand. On average, 50% of all customer interactions include the mention of at least one brand detractor.

Brand detractors can negatively impact brand perception, customer experience, customer retention, and revenue. Left undetected and unresolved, they have the potential to wreak serious havoc on your business.

How to Identify Brand Detractors

Being aware of negative customer feedback whether it be about your products, services, or communication means you can take targeted action to address customer challenges.

Here’s how to pinpoint those pesky detractors:

  • Create a habit of listening to unsolicited customer feedback (here’s a step-by-step guide to getting started)
  • Intentionally listen for negative tones and phrases that signal frustration or exasperation (we’ve included a few examples below)
  • List all of the brand detractors you hear and look for common themes or trends
  • From that list, identify the top brand detractors impacting your business. This is where you should focus your efforts first.

Brand Detractors Examples

Brand detractors sound like:

  • “Why can’t you guys have this all together? This is confusing!”
  • “Every time they say ‘Oh, we’ll get with a supervisor’ no one ever gets back with me.”
  • “I never got a response.”
  • “I will say they have created a monster when it relates to understanding what to order . . . you are kind of ordering in the dark.”
  • “So I’m confused. I want to get clarity from billing on what we owe.”

Most Common Brand Detractors

Our healthcare clients most often hear brand detractors in the following categories:

  • Perceptions of poor service
  • Frustration or confusion with self-service portals
  • Exasperation with claims, insurance, billing, or payment processes

How to Handle Brand Detractors

Aggregating sources of brand detractors gives you a better sense of what’s driving negative brand perception so you can develop a strategy to improve it.

Once you’ve identified your top brand detractors you should:

  • Define the specific problem your customers are facing
  • Share the problem with others in your organization. Assemble a cross-departmental team with stakeholders who have the power to create change.
  • Develop and execute upon a plan to solve the challenge at the heart of your brand detractor
  • After you take action, continue monitoring customer conversations for mentions of your brand detractor to learn if you’ve actually solved the problem.

By following this process one of our clients reduced website complaint calls from customers by 80% and saw a 20% increase in their online conversion rate in just two months. You can learn more about how they achieved those results here.

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