Customer feedback is one of the most effective tools that companies can use to stay relevant and keep making their offerings for their customers better. Getting open and honest feedback from your customers is not always easy as the question everyone throws around is- “What’s in it for me?” There is hardly an incentive for a customer to respond to a bunch of questions. But listening to what your customers say should be at the core of your business. Being a regular at getting feedback from your customers can change the way you do business because of the impact it has.
Getting feedback but not working on them is the number one mistake that most companies do when they send out surveys. There is hardly a strategy to tackle the problems the customers have mentioned in their feedback. This is where closing the feedback loop can make all the difference for you.
What is closing the feedback loop?
Most customer feedback responses are tossed into a bin without much of an action taken from it. For a few companies, these are just numbers that are generated based on how satisfied or dissatisfied the customers are. There is no room to act based on the feedback received. Closing the customer feedback loop fixes this problem by asking questions to the customers back and forth to resolve an issue. The fact that a customer’s feedback was taken seriously, and actions are taken based on it builds better credibility for the brand. It will also differentiate you from your competitors at a time when everyone is trying to outdo each other.
How to get feedback from customers:
Customers value their time and are not always happy to fill out the questions about your business. Getting feedback from your customers no matter how attractive a survey tool you use to draft those questionnaires, is never going to work unless you work on the things mentioned below.
For your customers that are happy to fill out the surveys that you send them, you can reward them with the following: coupon codes, invitation to visit your office for a day with all expenses paid, brand merchandise, cash prizes and so on. You could also gift them points that they can use when they buy your product in the future. A bonus upgrade on a trial basis is also something that a lot of survey takers would appreciate if your offering is premium and giving them a peek of the product is a big bonus.
Instead of offering random upgrades, give them product upgrades based on their history with you. It will not only surprise them; you will find them using the product more- a win-win situation for both the parties involved. Offer additional samples of your products for each of the surveys that they take. If it is a digital product, you are not losing out on revenue because of this marketing tactic either.
Find out what is the best possible upgrade that you can give to your customers by asking them or going for a poll where the upgrade with the most popular votes will be the one that is offered. When customers are sure that there is a specific reward for a few minutes of their time, you can expect them to spend their time on the survey with the utmost sincerity.
Offer a discount on their next purchase:
This is easily one of the easiest things to do in increasing the survey responses. Customers always love incentives and giving them the hope that the next time they purchase from them they have a discount waiting, gives them the impetus to finish a survey of a few minutes.
Get on a call with them:
Offer a free consultation phone call with your customers for their time in filling out the survey. In this way, you can also pick your customer’s brain while giving them the opportunity to improve their business. Find out how increasing your product’s efficiency will help their business.
See if you can find ways to improve their chances of converting more customers. A phone call where the only aim is to help your customer will result in more trust and future purchases and more importantly, referrals.
Benefits of closing the feedback loop:
All businesses know how important it is to keep getting clients as well as retain them over time. Research has proven that it is easier to make old customers stay than get a new customer. Closed loop feedback helps businesses to keep a track of their efficiency by hearing feedback from the horse’s mouth- the customer. Here are some of the benefits of closing the feedback loop:
Helps track customer journeys:
When you use closed-loop reporting, marketers can track everything from the clicks, pages visited, and more which will help in engaging as well as planning the future, for marketers. Closed loop reporting also helps understand the impact of paid marketing tactics at each customer touchpoints like webinars, forms, events, calls, and so on.
Access to data and the subsequent ability to understand such random bits of data can go a long way in creating impactful value to the customers. The numbers can help understand how the future will pan out, predict what will work and what won’t and ideate in that manner.
Understand what to focus on:
Closed loop reporting gives you valuable insights on the kind of content that is working with your customers and what does not tick boxes with them. Understanding this can help you create more relevant content according to the buyer persona and make adequate changes to derive the maximum value out of it.
Get to know your customers better:
Understanding how your present and potential customers interact with your content, marketing emails, website, and other customer interaction points can give you a great deal of knowledge that can directly benefit your business. It will help you allocate your budget efficiently as well.
Provides a direct line of support for the future:
After customers respond to the questionnaire, there is a back and forth set of emails exchanged by the business with the customer (in a closed feedback loop), the email ID associated with it will act as a means of correspondence for the future. This will not only reduce the time taken for the customer to get help in the future, but it creates a bond as well.
Increases brand loyalty:
The equation between you and the customer changes when the response to the questionnaire is given the respect it so deserves by working on the changes required. Customers who love your product already will feel vindicated for associating with you while the ones that are not sure if you are worth the money spent on will feel assured and are more likely to spend on you again.
Reduces your customer acquisition cost:
Making closed loop feedback a regular affair makes you shorten the sales cycle and find out strategies that were earlier putting a dent on your marketing budget needlessly. Understanding the areas that customers love about you gives you the wherewithal to allocate budget in the correct places. It helps determine which resources to allocate that gives the best ROI. This way you can set goals that will surely be achieved by allocating the correct marketing budget and incrementing the same based on the results you get. Don’t have to waste time, effort and resources on strategies and campaigns that don’t work.
Turns dissatisfied customers into staying with you longer:
You will rarely find customers who are not satisfied write to you to solve their queries. They badmouth the company to their friends and leave you for a competitor. Closing the feedback loop ensures that you turn such disgruntled customers into people who find value under you when they see the service and product improving- all based on the feedback from other customers. The realization that you care and are willing to make amends would mean a lot to them and this would pleasantly surprise them.
Gives clarity on buyer response and target audience:
By understanding the client’s feedback using a set of questionnaires, you can understand the unique challenges your customers face, their needs, and activities that help them in their progress. Gaining access to this set of data makes you become more aware of your target audience and increases the clarity on your buyer persona. Each business needs to have about 3-4 buyer personas which will help them target their audience correctly. If the information on the buyer personas becomes more refined, then it is possible to target the correct segment which in turn increases conversions.
Find out areas where you can improve:
Closing the feedback loop is a process of continual understanding of who you are and what you do as a business. Every feedback from your customer gives you titbits of information which when worked upon can make a sea change in your credibility. When you keep following up with your customers, you will understand the areas where you are found lacking and it will give you deep insights into things that need to be immediately worked upon. Different perspectives from customers who come from different strata of society and backgrounds will add immense value to get an in-depth overview of your offering.
Find out areas where you are good at:
Not only do you get to understand the areas that you can improve, but also places where you are excelling in front of your customers. The fact that customers spent their time telling you that you were good at something means that you need to put more effort into making it the best part of your offering. You can ask them a barrage of questions to determine why they think you were the best at that part. It will give you an understanding of what goes into making an excellent product and find out ways if you can extrapolate it to other areas as well.
Helps you understand the impact of your marketing:
Closed loop feedback will also give you an understanding of how your marketing team has fared. The data that you get can be analyzed based on the responses. You can find out if your customers have understood how good or bad you have been at making them aware of the features you have and the benefits of using your product. If some of the answers make you realize that the customers are not getting the point, then you need to change your marketing message. This is just one of the insights that you can get by asking for feedback and working on them.
It helps the Customer Experience team:
Closed feedback loop not only improves the brand value of the company by bettering the company’s customer experiences, but it can also help you in changing the entire strategy that has been followed until now. The kind of effect that the CX team has been having on the various campaigns that they do can also be gauged. The real-time feedback has an immediate effect and also paves the way for better strategic decisions by the CX team.
Your customers expect more from you:
The higher the expectations that your customers have from you, the better it is for you. It means two things: 1. They expect the best from you because you have been one of the finest solutions that they have got for their problems. 2. It keeps you on your toes to keep improving and delivering the best that is possible. No one can master being perfect at understanding and helping customers, but you can always strive and be the best in your market. How? By incrementally improving each day, by listening to your customers every day and working on the product regularly. This is where the closed loop feedback system comes into play by making you push your business to better levels.
Here is how NOT closing the loop affects your business:
We have time and again mentioned to you how customers are powerful these days because of the choices they have. They can easily say “goodbye” to you and spend money on your competitors. A Gartner report says that 64% of people place customer experience as a priority when choosing brands. Reports like this are a clear cut indicator of how big is the average customer’s experience when dealing with a brand.
Also, as we mentioned earlier in the article, customers do realize that no brand is 100% perfect. They do expect for you to make mistakes, but what is unforgivable according to them is not taking any steps to lessen the damage. A single bad experience can completely erase the goodwill you have earned over the years. Not only will you lose that customer who you wronged, you might also be losing out on people they would have referred in the future.
Closing the feedback loop as soon as you get a survey response will help you salvage the situation immensely, and it plays a big role in managing your reputation. There is only a small time-frame before you get publicly shamed on social media, use this time to lessen the damage by getting on a call with the customer. Make amends and offer them solutions. Your only goal should be to keep the customer satisfied even if you think you are in a position from where there can be no recovery possible.
The follow-ups from a closed feedback loop can make a lot of difference in the way your customers perceive about your brand. Also, working on the customer’s feedback makes them feel as if they are heard and the resultant action that the business takes based on the feedback will feel like a reward.
The closed feedback loop will also give you directions on how to make long-term decisions and the kind of strategy that you need to implement. It helps in different departments working together in tandem to lift the prospects of the business. A fantastic customer experience strategy will increase conversions, make the existing customers stay and more.
A closed loop feedback system puts you in a unique position where you can deliver impeccable experiences to your customers at the efficiency and ability that helps your business a lot. Customers expect to have a smooth experience every time they interact with a brand. They are more attuned to stop doing business with a brand if they have a bad experience. Asking for the customer’s feedback at each individual touchpoint is important and so is working on the feedback received.
Closing the feedback loop by acting on a customer’s feedback benefits not only the individual but also impacts on the brand that acts. Customers do realize that anybody can mess up, but if you don’t take remedial action to mitigate the damage done, you are more likely to end up losing the customer as well as ward off people who were interested in your offering. The closed-loop feedback mechanism is extremely necessary today in an age where businesses are increasingly becoming customer-centric.
Also, closing the feedback loop requires commitment from the management as well as the entire spectrum of employees. There is a lot of effort involved and long-term focus to keep the company soaring.