Closing the Feedback Loop Drives Customer Satisfaction at Carlson Wagonlit Travel


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Most companies capture customer feedback, but only a small fraction act on it, and even fewer follow up with customers to address problems, make changes, and rescue at-risk relationships. Customer feedback has the most value if a company acts on it in a timely manner to “close the feedback loop.”

“Closing the feedback loop” refers to the process of sharing customer feedback with the employees responsible for the customer experience, empowering those employees to take appropriate action on the feedback provided, and allowing the employees to interact directly with customers to resolve issues and inform them of what actions would be taken. As a result, organizations can effectively turn difficult situations into an opportunity to enhance the customer experience and strengthen customer relationships. That responsiveness will help these organizations stand out from their competitors in the marketplace.

In order to close the feedback loop, companies need to define and apply a process for responding to customer feedback. To help you take action on a timely basis, it’s useful to set up an action management process—one that incorporates business rules to identify what events warrant direct customer follow-up, uses alerts to notify you when those events occur, offers case management methodologies to establish ground rules for the follow-up process, lets you set closure goals and document the outcomes, and offers analytic tools to dig into the root causes behind customer issues. Many customer-centric companies implement an enterprise feedback management (EFM) solution to help them automate the action management process, and integrate those activities with the processes of capturing and analyzing customer feedback.

Actionable insight

One company that closes the customer feedback loop as part of day-to-day operations is Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT), a global leader in business travel management operating in more than 150 countries. The company had previously conducted an email survey of travelers once a year to gauge customer satisfaction, but recognized that this approach didn’t provide the kind of actionable insights needed to address customer issues in a timely way, resolve problems, and improve business processes. In addition to looking for actionable, real-time traveler feedback, CWT also wanted to better understand the factors behind customer satisfaction.

…organizations can effectively turn difficult situations into an opportunity to enhance the customer experience and strengthen customer relationships.

To help them start closing the loop, the company initiated a branded, global customer experience program, “CWT Listens,” using the MarketTools CustomerSat EFM solution to implement traveler surveys in 50 countries and 10 languages. Each year the company sends out more than half a million survey invitations around the globe, including transactional survey invitations sent out twice a week to travelers who have recently completed travel. The survey data drives an ongoing rapid response program to address customer problems and provides CWT with a rich pool of customer insights to ensure business decisions are rooted in quantifiable customer data.

CWT uses the action management capabilities in their EFM solution to respond to customer feedback in a coordinated and effective manner. They set business rules to automatically generate alerts based on low survey scores that identify dissatisfied travelers, and ensure that customers’ concerns are promptly addressed. Automatic alerts are triggered to notify CWT teams around the world, using an array of filters to route them to specific local customer service teams to take action. These teams are expected to contact the customer within one business day to acknowledge their feedback. CWT then tracks the progress as customer service teams work to resolve the problem and close the loop with customers. As part of its commitment to excellent customer service, alerts are also copied to senior leaders, who follow up on issues as part of leadership reviews.

Escalating dissatisfaction issues

In addition to responding to individual travelers, CWT established a “Red Client” Program to escalate response to dissatisfied corporate clients. “Red Clients” are identified when a key satisfaction score for a client company turns negative—meaning that the number of travelers within an organization who return low survey scores exceeds those who return favorable ratings. Special teams review all the survey responses and comments received from the client company’s travelers, to examine the issues, determine the root causes, and set up a corrective action plan to close the loop. The process is then tracked, measured, and reviewed at quarterly leadership meetings.

In one case, a “Red Client” company had deployed a CWT online booking tool, but chose not to take training on the tool – then later, one of the client’s administrators improperly modified one of the tool’s features. Low results on transactional surveys as a result of the client-side error alerted CWT to the improperly implemented feature, and survey responses helped CWT pinpoint the problem and identify the root cause. CWT was able to quickly resolve the technical problem and set up training for the company. This responsiveness resulted in a 35-point positive upswing in client satisfaction in a very short period of time.

CWT has also used customer feedback data to close the loop with broader categories of customers. By analyzing alert data, CWT discovered that customer satisfaction and loyalty scores for travelers who used online booking tools tended to be lower than those who had worked one-on-one with travel counselors. CWT also observed that action alerts generated for online booking issues outnumbered alerts on agent-related issues. With that information, CWT designated a team focused on improving customer satisfaction with the online experience. To close the loop with its online customers, CWT invested in improving online booking tools and expanding training services for client companies.

Improving the customer experience

Since Carlson Wagonlit Travel began closing the loop with customers, the company has resolved thousands of customer issues, increased satisfaction scores significantly, and improved major client relationships. It’s helped them deliver an outstanding customer experience that gives them an edge over their competitors.

By closing the feedback loop—using an action management system incorporating business rules, alerts and case management—any organization can quickly and effectively respond to customer feedback in a way that improves customer satisfaction. At the same time, the process delivers the insights companies need to prioritize investments that improve the customer experience and increase loyalty, ultimately boosting customer retention and overall business results.

Greg Marek
Greg Marek is Vice President of Marketing at MarketTools, where he leads all product marketing, demand generation, and marketing communications activities. Prior to MarketTools, he held senior-level marketing roles at leading companies including Citrix Systems, Intuit and Oracle.


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