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Successfully Closing the Customer Feedback Loop


Confirmit Team

Confirmit Team

Author Bio

Confirmit’s dedicated teams work to deliver world-leading customer experience, Voice of the Employee and Market Research solutions. 


Author Bio

Think of all the surveys you’ve taken in your life. As you hit the submit button or hung up the phone, did you ever expect to get something in return (aside from that minor incentive you come across from time to time)?

Here’s the good news: this opens the door for your Voice of the Customer (VoC) program to establish a competitive advantage.

“Closing the Loop” refers to the process of sharing customer feedback with the employees responsible for the customer experience and empowering those employees to talk directly to the customer to take appropriate action on the feedback provided. The Closing the Loop process, organizations can effectively turn difficult situations into an opportunity to enhance the customer experience and strengthen the relationship. That responsiveness will help you stand out from your competitors in the marketplace.

The following factsheet provides additional information about Confirmit's Action Management factsheet to help you close the loop.

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Where do you begin? Here’s how to get started with closing the customer feedback loop:

Follow up with the individual customer!
Customer loyalty and satisfaction scores can provide early warning signs of dissatisfied and at-risk customers. However, companies often don’t take action on customer problems or complaints until it’s too late (for example, if the customer cancels a service or switches to a competitor). By setting up an Action Management process that enables you to analyze customer feedback as soon you receive it and set alerts to immediately respond to issues and problems, your company gains the opportunity to proactively close the loop and positively influence customer retention.

Customer feedback can also help you spot broken processes or issues with specific employees. If possible, use the information you get from your customer survey immediately to retrain employees or investigate potential defects in your systems.

What Warrants Direct Follow-up with Customers?
The events that should trigger a follow-up with your customers depend on the overall objectives of your Voice of the Customer program. You should consider a number of variables – for example, survey type, key performance metrics, and available resources. Common approaches include follow-up based on:

  • Direct request – It’s not uncommon for survey respondents to directly request recontact in the customer feedback survey itself or even reply to the email inviting them to take the survey with a specific issue. Be ready to have a process in place to deal with these types of requests.
  • Low satisfaction triggers – Many companies set up alerts to notify the relevant employees if a customer’s response to certain survey questions is below a certain benchmark score (for example, a 5 or below on a 10-point scale asking a customer’s satisfaction level). Following up with dissatisfied customers has proven to be beneficial time and time again – especially if you can address their concerns directly. We’ve seen so many cases where a simple phone call or email can resolve an issue that may have otherwise festered and led to lost revenue.
  • Promoters – It’s also beneficial to set up alerts to notify you if a customer’s survey responses indicate a high satisfaction level. Closing the loop with Promoters gives you the opportunity to thank them for their loyalty. No one likes to feel taken for granted, not even your biggest supporters. Consider letting your promoters know that you appreciate their feedback and their business.

Set Clear Ground Rules for Follow-up
It’s important to set clear expectations within your organization when it comes to roles and responsibilities around your Action Management process for customer follow-up. Once you set up your process, provide employee training so that responsible parties have a clear understanding of what is expected.

Key Components of Closing the Customer Feedback Loop with an Action Management Process

  • Coordinate a Single Point of Contact: Based on the events that you’ve decided will trigger a response, put rules in place to ensure that only one party is responsible for direct customer follow-up in each specific instance. The last thing you want to do is have different employees in your organization reaching out to the same customer on an issue.
  • Establish a Follow-up Strategy: Once you determine the triggers and responsible parties, you should determine a recommended approach for follow-up, whether it’s sending an email, calling the customer back, or another approach.
  • Set Closure Goals: Aim to follow-up and resolve an issue within X number of days
  • Document Outcomes: Be sure to document the actions taken and subsequent outcomes for each case. This can go a long way in identifying the ROI of the Closing the Loop process with your customers.

 

If you’re concerned about a lack of resources to handle customer follow-up, start slowly. Establish a benchmark with an initial set of responses in order to gauge how much follow-up activity will be necessary. Use that data to build a business case for additional resources where it makes sense. (Note: do not ask a survey question such as “Would you like to be contacted?” until you have the resources in place to handle that kind of action item. Such a question puts your organization on the hook for timely follow up.)

Perhaps the best way to begin with Closing the Loop is to start with the big fish, which you can identify by filtering responses by an indicator field such customer tier, valued customers, or revenue spend. Assign higher priority when it comes to follow-up with these key accounts. You can use other key variables such as region, product, or assigned representative to make sure the right person gets in touch with the customer. As your Action Management process matures, you can incorporate a number of variables to help streamline the process even further.

Timing is Everything
Closing the customer loop is about timely resolution, both internally and externally. A fast and effective response to a customer’s concern may be a matter of life or death for your relationship. Therefore, getting customer survey data into the hands of the right employee is vital.

Companies that understand the importance of sharing customer feedback internally in a timely and meaningful way usually automate the process of sending out internal alerts or notifications to stakeholders once a particular type of feedback is captured. An enterprise feedback management solution will not only help you distribute customer feedback to the right employees, but track and report on the follow-up and analyze the final results. A solution with a comprehensive Action Management process gives you the ability to set business rules to automatically generate alerts, open cases, and assign case managers, team members, priority rankings, and deadlines, to effectively close the loop with customers. Such solutions also provide a process for gauging the result of the actions taken to address the feedback, so you can establish best practices and track effectiveness over time.

Communicate the results
As you collect customer feedback, you can use that data to identify key drivers of satisfaction and trends across organizational touch points. Such findings determine what strategic actions to take in order to drive business process improvements, both in the short term and long term. A big part of Closing the Loop process is to communicate these results to your employees and customer base alike.

When your company uses aggregate findings to help improve business processes and the design of future product and service offerings, it’s important to let the survey participants themselves– your customer base – know about these results. Give credit where credit is due! For example, consider notifying your customers via an email or newsletter with a statement like:

We appreciate the feedback you provided, and the suggestions you made about ways we could improve our offerings. ABC Company senior management has carefully reviewed and prioritized all of this information, so we can take actions to address your concerns and requests. Here are specific actions that we have initiated and are working on:

Product Enhancements: [detail]
Expanded Service Offerings: [detail]
Complimentary Training: [detail]
Support Improvements: [detail]

Be sure that relevant results are communicated to those employees involved in your VoC program, as well. When done right, employees at all levels of the company will have committed quite a bit of time and effort into developing surveys and building the program, and knowing the outcomes will help with continued motivation and participation. Emphasize the positive to help truly integrate your Voice of the Customer Program into the company culture – a great way to do that is to notify customer-facing employees and their managers of a job well done when positive survey responses are received.



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