Following up with passive clients in NPS

Mostly, but not completely, satisfied clients, clients known as passives or neutrals in NPS can offer a more nuanced critique of your service. With some work, they are a realistic chance to become advocates for your firm.

August 1, 2023

What is a passive or neutral client in NPS?

A passive is a client who has given a score of 7 or 8 in response to the question – how likely are you to recommend us to a friend or colleague? – according to the NPS global standard.

What does a passive or neutral score mean?

Passives and neutrals are possibly the hardest category to define. Some in the NPS community call them ‘passively positive,’ but this may not always be the case. True, a score of 7 or 8 is far from bad, but is it high enough to call them loyal clients? Probably not. With this level of enthusiasm they could potentially be tempted by a compelling offer (on price or service or both) from a competitor. And perhaps more importantly, they are unlikely to be referring you to others, they are not promoting you, and if they do recommend you there is likely to be a "but" there somewhere as they describe your service.

Passives and neutrals: an opportunity

These can offer service improvement insights, and With some work, they are a realistic chance to become advocates for your firm.

Service improvement insights

Often mostly, but not completely, satisfied clients, passives and neutrals can offer a more nuanced critique of your service. Selecting ‘Neutrals’ only on your ClientCulture dashboard will enable you to focus on their feedback. Follow-up, by email or phone call, to dive deeper.

Advocates in waiting

Close to passionate, passives are worth working on. If you can directly address the one or two issues holding them back from becoming complete fans of your service then you may be able to push them into becoming your advocates. Think about your own experience with service providers. It is often when shortcomings are addressed in a way that exceeds your expectations that can turn you from ambivalent to passionate about a client experience.

How to follow up with passives

Goal – be action focused

A successful follow up with a passive should enable us to introduce cost-effective, actionable change which, if followed, will over-time convert that passive to a promoter.


By phone (or face-to-face if the account size is significant). The conversation needs to be interactive. Email is not appropriate.


As quickly as possible.


  1. Be thankful for the feedback.
  2. Think of it as an opportunity to learn something you didn’t previously know; even, if it is just this client's point of view.
  3. Stay open-minded.


Remain calm and empathetic. Do not get defensive. Try not to take it personally.


Consider these steps:

  1. Be thankful for the feedback.
  2. Begin with a thank you and explain the feedback process, e.g. Hi (first name), its…..from...I wanted to touch base with you to thank you for participating in our recent client survey. I wonder if you have some time for me to explore your feedback a little. Is now a good time? All feedback, positive and negative, is very important to us. Constructive feedback (such as yours) helps us continue to refine and improve our services.
  3. If they gave feedback, start there, ask them to expand and clarify e.g. I know you mentioned ….. Could I ask, what did you mean by that in particular? How did the issue arise? What piece of work are you referring to exactly?
  4. If they only provided a score eg 8, You gave a score of 8, could I ask, what was the main reason for that score? What features of our service did you have most in mind when you gave the score? (responsiveness, communication, advice quality, accuracy etc)
  5. Did they select any loyalty drivers (ie the top three areas needing improvement for them to be more likely to recommend us)? In terms of improvements you would like to see you mentioned Value for Money could I ask you to explain that a little more? What exactly are you referring to?
  6. Did they mention any particular concerns? If so, try to understand the root cause of their concerns. Remember this may not be obvious at first. It may even be different to their survey feedback. To unearth the root cause ask a series of open-ended questions such as the five why’s, e.g. if they left no feedback – Could I ask, what was the reasoning behind your score? What was top of mind for you at that time? Why did you...? Why was that? Why do you say..?
  7. Clarify their involvement level, e.g. are they a senior person with a high level understanding of our service or are they involved in the detail?
  8. Focus on examples not feelings. Whenever possible ask for details, examples and seek clarity. What was said that made you feel that? Who said it? How often? Was this lack of responsiveness occasional or constant? Describe the regularity?
  9. What do we change? Ask the client, what would you like to see change? How could we do better next time?
  10. Explore options, either generated by the client or suggest them yourself. What about if we did this, would that be preferable? Can I come back to you with some suggestions? If you think of anything else, please Schedule a meeting
  11. Manage expectations carefully. Don’t promise changes that you aren’t able to implement.
  12. Finally thank the client. Follow-up if changes are made. If a change is introduced as a result of the feedback, get back in touch with the client and let them know.

Document the essence of the conversation and recommendations for service changes. There is a convenient place for this in your ClientCulture account, under Follow-up. Stored on the platform, the feedback is accessible to management and any specialist teams that may be exploring solutions to firm-wide service problems.

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