Customer Trust-Building 101: Close the Loop!
Collecting customer feedback has become a mainstay for companies that want to reap the benefits of customer-centricity.
There are now more ways and more tools to collect customer feedback than ever before!
But one of the biggest mistakes many organizations make is assuming that customers should just know—without the benefit of your communication—what you are doing with their feedback.
Feedback can be rich with ideas for:
Managing business and operational risk.
Improving products and services.
Allocating resources to staff training.
And it’s great if you’re soaking it all up and actually taking action on what you hear.
But that’s not where the work ends.
You also need to close the loop with customers.
What does it mean to close the loop?
Closing the loop is about getting back to the customer after they have shared what’s on their minds as part of a survey or a one-on-one interview, for example.
You let the customer know they have been heard. Tell them how you’re using their feedback. Or, tell them what you are going to do in collaboration with others, based on their feedback.
Sharing feedback internally is not the same as closing the loop.
Perhaps you share customer feedback internally among your colleagues and managers. Maybe you’re even using data visualization tools to create gorgeous charts and graphs that show your colleagues what customers are saying.
That’s smart! It’s definitely something you should do to align employees around customers.
Closing the loop with customers, though, is different. It’s equally as important as sharing insights internally. And it doesn’t have to be expensive, time-consuming, or hard.
Why is it important?
Closing the loop builds credibility, trust, and relationships with customers. When you close the loop, you’re letting customers know your firm sees the value in their feedback, and their choice to do business with you in the first place.
How do you close the loop?
Choose your approach based on the customer, where you received the feedback, and what makes sense for your business. Here are a few ideas.
1. Use tech.
Most of today’s sophisticated experience management tools give you that capability. You can create and customize closed-loop tickets based on any element of a survey response, for example. Always check the content of automated messages to ensure they speak to the nuances of the customer’s feedback. Don’t send messages that have nothing to do with the context of the feedback.
2. Make a sign.
Nobody ever said closing the loop needs to be glamourous or flashy! Depending on your business or how and where your customers share feedback, you can close the loop at or near where they provided feedback in the first place. Here’s an example of a simple sign posted on the front door of a restaurant in Pennsylvania. Restaurant owners communicated that customer feedback had been heard and what the restaurant did in response.
3. Respond to online reviews.
Online reviews or customer comments posted on Yelp or Facebook, for example, are an inevitable part of doing business now. Even government agencies aren’t immune to citizen feedback via social media. Sometimes the feedback is positive, and sometimes not. At any rate, you should seriously consider responding. I love the tips in this blog for responding to online feedback.
4. Write something.
Depending on themes, times, and places you've received feedback, it can be more appropriate to respond to customers in a general way, like through an open letter. I’ve seen these in newspapers and in-flight magazines, for example, when brands needed to apologize or celebrate big wins. The point is to let customers know what happened with their feedback, and what can be expected moving forward.
5. Have a conversation.
Don’t underestimate the power of a one-on-one conversation with a customer. In my past lives in B2B law and Big Four accounting, one-on-one follow-up conversations with clients frequently led to immediate relationship-building and business development opportunities. So, pick up the phone and call.
Make “closed-loop” feedback systematic.
Honor your relationship with customers by letting them know! Make it a habit to communicate and close the loop. Build it into the DNA of your organization.
Choose the right way to do it. Understand customer expectations and what makes sense for your business.