But while simple feedback like this is useful, it’s also limited. Imagine a flaw in a company's process is pointed out by a concerned customer, and the company gathers up that data. That's great. It's useful. But why stop there? Brands should look to establish continuous feedback with their customers and then act on that feedback. Let the person who supplied the information know that it was useful and - most importantly - that their comments resulted in action.
Whether it's positive or negative feedback, it's essential information. Brands really can benefit from setting up a loop of customer experience feedback. But the real rewards come from closing that loop. Here are 12 reasons to close that loop of client feedback:
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1. Continue and Develop Positive Customer Relationships
Ongoing conversations with customers after receiving feedback help to establish and strengthen customer relationships. The business is pleased to have been provided with information which may prove useful, and the customer is pleased to have been listened to, involved and respected. Everyone's happy. In a world where social proof drives buying decisions – happy customers are to be encouraged.
2. Catch ‘At Risk’ Customers Before They Turn Into Ranters
Just because feedback isn't positive, that doesn't mean that the customer has turned against a brand. Sure, they may be at risk of doing so, but they can still be saved. With nurturing and active engagement, they can be brought back from the precipice. Make a customer feel listened to, and they're likely to wait to see if changes are implemented before they Rant to friends, family and other potential customers online.
3. Turn Ranters Into Ravers
Even if a customer has become a ‘Ranter' and they're expressing negative feelings or writing poor reviews, they're not necessarily a lost cause. Making changes based on their comments will go some way to improving a Ranter's view of a service, transaction or experience. Go full circle and close that loop with them and they start to change their perspective about your brand. Before long, they’re Raving, not Ranting.
4. Win Back Lost Customers
Affecting positive change with a ‘Ranting’ customer is achievable. If they’re expressing their thoughts, they're engaged. It's when an unimpressed client is quiet that businesses should worry. They've given up, effectively. They're lost. But that doesn't mean that the lines of communication are dead. Involved, thanked and shown actual change, they’ll likely give the brand another chance.
5. Establish a Mindset of Continual Improvement
Taking closed loop customer experience feedback on board shouldn’t just be a chore, it should be a pleasure and it needs to seep into the culture of the business. It needs to become a mindset, a way of life for everyone in the company, but it’s unlikely that this change will occur organically. Behavioural modelling needs to come from above which means that management and leaders within the organisation need to adopt this mindset first. Then, in time, the philosophy will trickle down to all employees, creating a truly customer-centric business.
McKinsey & Company are one of the world’s biggest and most respected management consultancy firms. They explain their thoughts on the importance of making continued change a mindset rather than a laboured exercise:
“Change is difficult. Organisational inertia is hard to overcome, even for companies with a strong customer orientation. Establishing a continuous-improvement regimen matters most in achieving a superior customer-centric mindset.”
“Employees closing the loop with customers on direct feedback, then using that insight to change the way the process is designed or executed [...] often it involves a “muscle” that hasn’t been trained and role modeled.”
6. To Stand Out From the Crowd
Given a fully-rounded customer experience at every turn isn’t - surprisingly - the priority for many organisations. All businesses understand the importance of keeping their customers satisfied, but few fully realise how vital involving those customers is. Genuine engagement can differentiate a firm from the marketplace and be that company’s USP.
7. To Bridge the Gap Between Businesses and Customers
Whether a brand appreciates it or not, the path from ‘interested’ to ‘active’, from ‘prospect’ to ‘account’ can be a rocky road for the customer. There’s a thousand ways tiny little negatives can lead to an ever-widening chasm between the two parties. Closing the loop on your customer feedback can narrow that gap and make your customer feel more like a stakeholder, rather than just one of many small income streams.
8. Improve Your NPS Scores
A boost to your Net Promoter Score is a natural by-product of any improvement in your overall customer experience. NPS benchmarking is a gauge that many top-ranking board members, investors and shareholders use to evaluate customer service and customer experience. Closing the loop should directly lead to customers recommending that company's products or services to other people. That will be reflected in their improved NPS results, which the CX department can then shout about from the rooftops.
9. Emotion is a Key Driver for Brand Loyalty
Every business wants to create a culture of brand loyalty amongst its customers. It's the ultimate. One of the most excellent ways to achieve a fierce devotion from your customer base is to tap into their emotions. A sense of belonging is elemental to people. It's an almost tribal drive to be part of a group. Closing the loop improves customer service. Keep the service and experience levels high, and brand loyalty will follow.
Customer experience consultant and all-round expert Ian Golding recognises the importance of emotion when it comes to the loop of customer feedback. Here’s what he says on the subject:
“Emotions are a function of how good the two cornerstones of Customer Experience – function and accessibility – are. How they were made to feel, whether intentional or not, is what people remember.”
“Emotions are what drives our behaviour about whether or not we will do the same next time and tell others to do the same. If people think they are part of something special, connected to a company that lives by like-minded values, they will FEEL special. And as human beings, we appreciate that.”
10. It Connects Employees With Customer Service More
Other people can benefit from the loop of customer feedback closing too. Employees can also gain a lot from the process. Customer service/experience is often just dealt with by one department. Okay, so it's not a secret cabal meeting in a series of dimly-lit underground tunnels, but most employees don't see what happens with feedback and can't engage with it. But closing the loop widens the scope of feedback, involves people at ground level and can connect them with creating better service for customers when they see their reactions. Plus, who doesn’t like the idea of working for an organisation that follows through on their promises…?
11. It Shows You Care
The data, the specifics - it’s all gold. But closing that loop, feeding back to people who took time out of their busy days to help your organisation? It shows genuine gratitude. It demonstrates that the comments were taken on board. That what customers think and feel is of tremendous importance. Reaching out to customers who have provided feedback shows that the company cares.
12. It Improves Your Overall Business
Customer experience feedback and closing the loop isn't about paying lip service to customers. It's not an exercise in smiling and nodding politely, it's about people who chose to become customers explaining how the service they receive can improve. Some firms pay consultants millions to get told a few home truths whereas feedback can be a whole lot cheaper, coming directly from people who actually know what's happening at a CX level. Acting on some of that advice can refine your processes and make you a far better business.
'Closing the Loop’ Key Takeaways...
- It rewards Ravers - Customers that have provided some really positive feedback should be recognised, thanked and nurtured. They deserve it. It then becomes rewarding for them and they turn into full-blown brand advocates. Which is excellent for any business.
- It wins back Ranters - Demonstrating that you’ve listened to negative feedback and acted on it shows a mature approach to customer experience. Closing that loop with personal contact goes even further. It may well be enough to completely change that unhappy customer’s mind about their experience.
- It proves to customers than CX matters - Reporting back to someone who’s taken time to give you feedback - and coming back to them with something tangible - shows that they were listened to. It shows that the company cares.
- It’s a great USP - Comprehensive and effective closed loop customer feedback set-ups are not all that common. If an organisation embraces one, they’re highly likely to find themselves set apart from their rivals. It’s a potential unique selling point that could make all the difference.
- It can benefit everyone involved - Customers feel involved and it’s great for the customer services department of the company. But if rolled out in a way that involves lots of employees, closing the loop can make everyone across the company feel more involved in providing excellent service.
- It’s good for business - Not only are customers made to feel more involved, appreciated and heard, a by-product of closed loop feedback is the continuous drip feed of tips and hints on how to improve processes. If heeded, how can this kind of advice be anything other than great for the brand?
If you ask for customer feedback, be prepared to listen to what comes your way. If you listen, be prepared to act on it and close the loop. Then? Simple. Reap the rewards!
Learn more about how our memory shapes the way we view our experiences in our insider's guide to customer experience: Click here to get your complimentary copy of the The Anatomy of a Great Customer Experience eBook