Closing the Forgotten Loop

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As customer experience professionals, we often worry about response rates. At the heart of the question of response rate is whether customers want to provide you with feedback and engage with your survey.

Why do customers provide feedback? Customers who provide feedback want you to get better. They want you to use what they are telling you in order to make improvements in the experience overall, and specifically for them as an individual.

Let’s turn that question around. Why don’t customers respond to CX surveys? Does that mean that they don’t want you to get better? If they do business with you frequently of course they do. Then why don’t they provide feedback? Perhaps your request was received at an inconvenient time. Maybe they perceive the instrument as more effort than it’s worth. Or it might be they don’t think that you are actually listening to what they have to say.

Perhaps we are more worried about getting the information we want rather than being worried about the customers’ motivation for providing information they are looking to share?

Are we sufficiently closing the loop?

A common maxim in asking for feedback is you should never ask for it unless you plan on taking action on what is learned.  If all you are doing is looking for a measure of performance, you are asking customers to do something that has no value for them.

There are two kinds of action that can be taken as a result of the information collected from customers. We can respond directly to individual customers and help them address concerns, questions, or opportunities they present.  This kind of action is done extensively today and closes the loop with the customer.

The second kind of action is more strategic. Based on collective learning and analytics, you can identify issues and opportunities to improve processes, people, products, services, channels, etc. Often this type of action takes a long time to implement. Customers, on the other hand, expect you to do something about the challenges they face soon after they’ve told you. In that sense, it is important that even for strategic action, we increase the cadence of action.

Who should we close this loop with?

This more strategic action presents a different kind of opportunity for closing the loop. Do we tell customers about the strategic changes that we are making to the customer experience? Too often, this is not the case among clients we work with. Few companies are telling customers what they are doing to improve the customer experience as a result of feedback. Consider telling not only those who provide feedback, but also those who didn’t about the changes and actions you are taking.

As a result, more of your customers will understand that you listen. They may even be more loyal. Response rates to your surveys will rise as long as you make sure what you’re asking from them is not onerous. You may even see a decline in negative posts on social media.

Lastly making this change will help to change the culture in your organization to be more focused on action. If employees know that you listen and respond to customers, their commitment will also rise. It impacts the entire organization, not just customers.

How much effort will it really take?

Of all the communication you could do with customers, a message that closes the loop on strategic improvements may be one of the easiest. Make sure that what you communicate to customers is actually being worked on. Do a periodic review of strategic improvements so your message can be updated at least once per quarter.   If such an effort impacted just 1% of your customers, which could be more than the average direct mail campaign, the return would be significant. However, the impact will be greater and more successful because you are creating a virtuous cycle.

Are there changes you have made to the customer experience your customer base would appreciate? If not, you should be doing more.  If yes, tell customers about what you have done and thank them for their input.  See how far a little appreciation can take you.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Michael Allenson
Michael is Founder of CXDriven. Formerly he was Principal CX Transformation Consultant at MaritzCX where he led a global team that consulted with clients on how to better leverage their customer experience management programs to drive business success. A frequent writer and presenter, Michael is passionate about helping companies leverage customer intelligence to take action that creates lasting customer relationships and sustainable improvements in growth and profitability. Over a 20+ year career, he has consulted with numerous Fortune 500 companies and their leadership teams on how to uncover superior insights and turn them into action. Prior to his role at MaritzCX, Michael was a Senior Consultant for Maritz Research, Technomic, Diamond Management and Technology Consultants and Leo J. Shapiro and Associates.

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