Customer feedback loop - Why it's important and strategies to close it
As a business, you know how important the thoughts of your customers are. Many organizations already use customer feedback software to collect these thoughts, create reports and make changes to improve the customer experience. But some miss the vital step of closing the customer feedback loop.
Here we want to explain the importance of this process to help maintain your existing customer base as well as to help turn them into promoters of your business. More practically, we’ll also discuss several strategies that can help you put this essential part of a customer experience program into action.
What is the customer feedback loop?
The customer feedback cycle is a process of several stages. Firstly, you need to gather customer feedback. You can use common survey tools like Net Promoter Score surveys, social listening tools or feedback forms. Then this information is analyzed to find areas of improvement for the overall customer experience. The changes themselves may be small tweaks in processes or dramatic shifts in how business is conducted.
Either during the strategizing about solutions or once they have been implemented, the loop is closed by reaching back out to your customers. You want to share with them that their feedback has been heard and that it has had an impact on your business.
Benefits of using the customer feedback loop
Why should you go to all this effort? There are many benefits for your business.
- You can increase your customers’ positive feelings towards your business. The feeling of being listened to and making an impact increases loyalty.
- Your customers are more likely to provide feedback in the future if they know it was listened to, valuable and worth their time in providing it.
- You can publicly show that you listen to customers and are willing to improve. Rather than being a static business, you can show that you are dynamic and open to improving your customers’ experiences.
Why is the customer feedback loop important?
The customer feedback loop is important for many reasons. Firstly, if you aren’t listening to your customers you won’t understand what their experience is like. Being unaware of how they feel about customer interactions means that you won’t know if your customers are unhappy, indifferent or absolutely love your business. Knowing what they think is the first step to improving their experience.
You could be missing out on ideas for improvements and new products. Often customers will share thoughts on what they wish you did, either in terms of wholly new products and services, or simply additions or changes to your existing offerings. Some may randomly provide this information to you, but reaching out and asking will increase the volume of suggestions you receive.
It can increase the efficiency of what you spend your resources on. Rather than wasting your time and money on building things that customers don’t value, you’ll learn what they want. This leads to efficient use of your team’s time as they are not wondering what changes to make or what to create next. You can spend money building exactly what customers are looking for.
Do you want your customers to stay with you for a long time, spending more with you each year and championing you to their friends and family? The first step to building a stronger and more loyal customer base is to help customers feel like they're a part of your business’ story. By spending time closing the loop, you’ll help show them how valuable they are to your business.
How to close the customer feedback loop
There are several steps you can take to close the customer feedback loop in your business. Before beginning, planning should always be your priority, rather than rushing ahead and wasting time and money. This planning should set you up for tracking, define priorities and processes as well as making sure your team is ready for success.
Create a plan for how to track customer feedback
You may receive customer feedback through a lot of different channels. This is a good thing, as you want customers to be able to contact you in whatever way is easiest for them. It will help ensure you get a good quantity of feedback.
However, you want to bring all of this information into one place so that it can be easily monitored, tracked and analyzed. This will help you see trends across locations or over time, which can help you know what issues need to be tackled first. You’ll be able to see the status as well, knowing that you’re closing the feedback loop at all times.
Define how you’ll close the loop
Before you start gathering feedback, knowing how you’re going to respond is important. Do you need to hire extra team members to perform this function? Will it be added to the workload of existing customer service staff? Will managers take the lead and contact customers?
By creating a plan before you start, you won’t be overwhelmed when feedback begins to flow back into your business. This will also help you define a timeframe for responding to feedback. You want to set high standards but not ones that are unachievable and leave your team scrambling.
Who is being contacted?
When you’re gathering feedback from a variety of customers, you’ll get a huge variety of answers. Depending on the questions you’re asking, you might only get ratings or you might get lengthy responses back. Deciding who you’re going to close the loop with before you start will help make the process more efficient when you begin to roll it out.
Some firms choose to only manually contact those that leave a negative review. Others will reach out to all customers personally to thank them for their feedback. How you’ve decided you’re going to close the customer feedback loop will help you decide who should be contacted.
Coach your team
When implementing a new process like reaching out to unhappy customers, you want to ensure your team is set up for success. Rather than just handing them the phone, or the email software, teaching them how to deal effectively with customers will ensure they are solving problems rather than creating new ones.
We cover this in more depth in our blog post, Why is employee engagement important? Some quick tips include making sure they understand how to listen well, being empathic, delivering bad news, and how to deal with irate customers. Speaking to customers while they are providing feedback can be challenging so make sure your team feels confident and engaged with your company's vision.
Create the culture
For some people in your teams, you’re about to create more work, more visibility into how well they’re doing their jobs and perhaps shift focus from what they think to what the customer thinks. This can be challenging for some people so it’s important that you create a company culture that values feedback at all levels.
Building company culture doesn’t happen instantly but is within your control. Bringing your team along with you on the journey of prioritizing and improving the customer experience can help them see the value in what you’re doing and why things are changing.