We all rely on feedback loops to function in business and in life. A term that originated in engineering, feedback loops are when the output from current operations is fed back into the system for future operations. In everyday life, a feedback loop could be the process of learning from your mistakes or reinvesting profits back into a business. In customer service terms, a feedback loop happens when customer feedback informs future business processes. Businesses “close the loop” when they act on the feedback they receive.
Closing the feedback loop is easier said than done
It sounds simple, but even business owners with the best of intentions can struggle to know what questions to ask, what feedback to act on, and how to follow up with their customers. Yet, when done right, closed-loop feedback is one of the best ways businesses can home in on what’s working for them—and what isn’t.
Why is it Important?
A lot of businesses use customer feedback to “take the temperature” of their current model, but don’t act on it in a meaningful way. Instead, they’ll spend time, effort, and money on their own strategies to get higher survey scores, without diving deeper into the specifics of what their customers want.
In doing so, they’re missing out on a lot of important insights about their business. Customer feedback tells you when you need to improve, but it can also tell you how you need to improve. Businesses that listen to those insights are in a much better position to truly deliver what their customers want. When they close the loop, they know exactly how to improve, so they don’t waste resources on things that aren’t fixing the real problems.
Closing the Loop Means Putting it in Motion Again
Closed-loop feedback is often a continual process of asking for and acting on feedback; over time, this process will help move a business in the right direction. Acting on the feedback is part of closing that loop, but another important part is getting back to the customers that offered their opinions.
Letting customers know how you’ve acted on their feedback is an important step, but one that a lot of businesses overlook. Sending an email newsletter or even putting up a poster that explains what you’ve done will help customers know that you value their time and energy. As a result, they’ll be much more likely to keep shopping with you and to keep offering feedback. It’s an important way to keep the conversation—i.e. the feedback loop in motion.
Getting Customer Feedback Right
There are four stages to a feedback loop: creating, capturing, analysing, and acting on input. The stages are interrelated; how input is created and captured will influence how you’re able to analyse and act on it. In turn, how you act on feedback will influence the new input that’s created and captured. Below are what each of these four stages should look like in a customer feedback loop:
Input comes from your customers, but it will be influenced by what questions you ask. Here are some tips for reflecting on your role in creating input as you’re designing surveys:
- When you’re designing questions, make sure you have a plan for how you’d act on the responses, whether they’re positive or negative.
- Design neutral questions that don’t incentivise positive feedback or praise—in this case, your customers’ honesty is more valuable than their kind words.
Free-text options will give customers an option to say anything not covered in your survey, but keep in mind that free text questions will be harder to analyse en masse. Balance these with rating scales or multiple-choice options.
How you capture input will influence the volume and accuracy of responses you get, and will in part determine your process for analysing them. Here are a few things to remember when capturing feedback:
- Quick surveys delivered directly after an interaction will be more accurate and effective than longer surveys delivered more than 24 hours after the interaction has ended
- According to a recent PwC survey, 63% of consumers would be willing to give their personal data to companies offering something they truly valued. Collecting info like email addresses can help you tell customers how you’ve improved in the action phase.
- Decide on how and when you’re going to analyse the data before you capture it, so the timing and size of your dataset that doesn’t overwhelm your team’s ability to analyse it.
Analysing the data properly will help you make the right decisions about what to do with it. This often means converting data into metrics that point towards specific actions. Here are a few things to consider while you’re analysing data:
- Aggregate data and send it to the right people, so the team analysing the feedback can see all the responses from a top-down perspective.
- If you have more than one department or location, sort the data by location or department so you can pinpoint where the issues are.
- Keep in mind that there is often a subset of customers who may just not like what you have to offer—for example, a niche retail chain might not be popular with customers that prefer big box stores. Analyse your data with a critical eye toward what you do best.
Acting on feedback is where you close the feedback loop. It helps you create loyal customers, who in turn create more input in the future. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you do it:
- Finding a solution can sometimes be a compromise between what customers want and what your budget allows for. Remember that you don’t always have to do exactly what customers suggest; you can innovate to solve the problem they’ve identified.
- If you can’t find a solution, the best course of action might be gathering more data, or gathering feedback in a different way.
- Don’t forget to let customers know what you’ve done to address the issues, preferably in the same format or place the feedback was given.
How ViewPoint Can Help
ViewPoint kiosks can help you close the loop with automation and assistance at every step of the process:
Creating: ViewPoint offers you the flexibility to create bespoke surveys, and professional guidance when you need it. Survey questions can easily be changed as your business evolves over time, to keep your feedback loop current with your business needs.
Capturing: Capturing data is easy with ViewPoint kiosks placed at strategic locations, such as near exits or checkout counters. Companies can opt to have parallel online surveys that collect the same data, so you can get feedback from both online and in-person shoppers.
Analysing: ViewPoint kiosks automatically aggregate data in real-time, so it’s all on one dashboard whenever you need to analyse it. You can send alerts to management to deal with urgent issues right away, while you’re collecting data for more long-term fixes.
Acting: When it’s time to act, it’s easy to send relevant datasets to management teams that need them. You can also update your new survey with a sentence or two about previous survey outcomes, so new customers know their voice matters.
Feedback should be an ongoing dialogue. Just like you need to give your employees feedback, your business needs feedback to tell you what you’re doing right and what needs improvement. Understanding the feedback loop can help you grow by leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors, but it’s putting that understanding in to action that counts.
About ViewPoint survey solutions
ViewPoint helps organisations to radically improve the quality of their services. Our interactive feedback technology engages with customers, employees and stakeholders to understand their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the experience they encountered.
Our unique smiley face surveys attract, engage, and encourage users to leave their thoughts. Four reasons feedback kiosks are the preferred feedback collection method:
- Lower cost customer survey solution
- Suitable for all environments
- Reliable and always on
- Highly accurate insights
Find out more about how real-time surveys can help you assess customer and staffing issues, monitor improvements, and compare departments to deliver the best service possible.