NPS for Staffing Firm Growth: Why Passives Matter to Your Bottom Line

It can be easy to focus a majority of your energy on your Promoters and Detractors. After all, they’re the cohort of your clients who are most likely to spend time talking about you (the good and the ugly), reviewing you, and in the case of a Promoter – referring you.

Not sure what we mean by Promoters, Passives, and Detractors? Click here to get a primer on the Net Promoter® Score.

While your Passives are presumably “satisfied”, they shouldn’t be discounted altogether. They may not be outright referring your firm to others, but they’re also not exclusively loyal to your firm either. This becomes concerning when looking at the likeliness of a staffing firm client to find a new firm to work with if their needs aren’t being met – our 2018 Staffing Buyer Study (conducted in partnership with CareerBuilder and ASA) shows that 1 in 3 hiring managers who utilize staffing firms have switched their primary provider in the past year (nearly 40% did so due to receiving poor service).



This behavior alone should be enough to encourage serious effort toward identifying, communicating with, and improving your strategy for servicing Passives. A quick look to your financials can offer even more impetus.

The Financial Impact of Passives

You’ve likely experienced the financial drain of a Detractor. For starters, Promoters have a higher amount of loyalty to your firm and are therefore less likely to take their business elsewhere.  On top of that, those (Promoters) who do continue to work with your firm are more likely to increase their spend while Passives tend to hold steady and Detractors actively look to divert spend to other firms.

For example, the below analysis of two large staffing firms and four years of data revealed Detractors decrease their spend more than 17% annually1; significantly taking away from their firm’s annual revenues.



While the financial impact of a Passive isn’t quite as significant, they do have a tendency to decrease their spend on an annual basis. But the real threat to your firm is just how easily a Passive can transition to a Detractor with a small slip in their service experience, which could potentially mean a further reduction of spend down the line.

Passives behave more similarly to Detractors

Here at ClearlyRated, we survey our clients on a monthly cadence. We were curious how our Passive clients compared to the rest of our client base (Promoters and Detractors) when it comes to how they speak about working with us. Are they neutral yet still generally content? Or, worse – are they more likely to say negative things about their experience?

Through an analysis of 1,000 open-ended comments from ClearlyRated clients who participated in a client satisfaction survey, we found that Passives actually have significantly more similar sentiments to Detractors than Promoters. This means that despite providing us with a relatively high satisfaction score (7 or 8), they are far more likely to provide negative comments (think “issues”, “concerns”, “lack” etc.)  vs. positive comments (“helpful”, “excellent”, “friendly”) in their feedback about working with us –  further confirming how one slip in their service experience could easily make them susceptible to transition to a Detractor.



Moving the Needle

Though it’s easy to assume Passives are altogether “insignificant,” a lot can be learned from these middle-of-the-road customers. Something in their experience is lacking, and you haven’t inspired loyalty in them (yet!).

Take that as a challenge to build a strategy that aims to convert your Passives to the same loyalty tier as those clients who would be willing to refer you (your Promoters!). Consider reaching out to further understand how they feel about working with your firm and where your opportunities for improvement are. Find a place in your process where you could offer something unexpected. Go above and beyond to recover if you fail to deliver on something.

And remember, Promoters tend to increase their spend about 10% a year, so moving that needle ever so slightly could have a noticeable impact on your bottom line (as well as your overall Net Promoter Score!).

Want more help honing your NPS strategy? Contact ClearlyRated today.

1Data is based on analysis of four years of data from two large staffing firms whose clients have participated in a ClearlyRated Net Promoter survey form 2015-2018.

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