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Post-Valentine's Day? The Leading Cause of Divorce (from your customers, of course)


valentine.jpgYes, well, while I have some personal experience in the area of divorce 25 years ago, that’s not really what this is about, as I write this just after Valentine's Day.


There is some amazing new HP research on what customers leave us. Not why customers leave us, but which ones. I have grown to think of it in terms of human relationships. Think of couples you know, and think of your customers, and put them into three categories:

  • First, there are the happy-happy couples. Everything is fantastic. They are references for all of us, and we are optimistic they will stay together for a long time. In terms of HP customers and the Net Promoter System, these are our Promoters, our reference accounts.
  • Second, there are those couples who seem to fight regularly. You note they have been doing so for the last ten years. They are communicating! I think most of us know couples like this. They usually stay together. In terms of our customers, these are the ones who have technical and management escalations from time to time; our NPS Detractors. But…as one of my managers said to me years ago “I love escalations! The customers always wind up buying more stuff”. In "sticky businesses" like software and marriage, it is hard to take the decision to change, especially when there is communication
  • Finally, there couples in the deadly zone of mutual indifference. They don’t care much about each other. A passerby smiles at one of them one day, and soon they surprise their other half by walking out the door. This is the new finding by HP research: the customers who leave are not the ones who complain, and of course are not the ones who are references. In NPS terminology, they are the Passives. The customers who leave are those who think we just don’t care about them.

Think about it. You know it is true, unless you are one of the rare people who has never had a failed relationship of any kind.



Maurice FitzGerald - Customer Experience and Strategy consultant
About the Author


Maurice FitzGerald ecently retired from his position as VP of Customer Experience for HPE Software after a career in hardware, software and services at DEC, Compaq and HP.

Vijay Nagasubramanian

Good one Maurice!

You have debunked one myth or should I say, provided one much needed clarification.


To spot or understand “Promoter” behavior is a no brainer.


But quite a few of us tend to bucket the ever complaining, whining partner as “Passives” (because they never give us the magical 9/10 rating and since we constantly endeavor to please them, we start getting a self-belief that we would certainly be a 7/8 in our partner’s eyes) and the indifferent ones as “Detractors” (because their non-communicative behavior compels us to believe we are not worth a rating of more than a 2 or 3)

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