Closing the Feedback Loop
In this article:
- What does "close the loop" mean?
- Receiving and sharing feedback.
- How to close the loop.
- Analyzing feedback over time.
- Acting to improve your core experience.
- Why is closing the loop important?
- Use case: Closing the loop in ecommerce.
- Questions about closing the loop.
Suggested next article: Core Training & Certification
What does "close the loop" mean?
Closing the loop means proving to customers that you’ve heard their feedback and that you take it seriously. In customer experience (CX) terms, closing the loop means responding to customer feedback in a way that solves a problem or presents a solution to ease customer sentiment. It means following up and finalizing the discussion with a customer, employee, or colleague.
According to the team that created NPS, “Closing the loop is a central element of the Net Promoter System.” As NPS survey responses flow in, your close the loop program should engage customers in consistent, empathetic, and effective outreach while sharing the voice of the customer throughout your organization to understand, refine, and improve the customer experience.
A truly impactful closed loop process includes seven steps:
- Customer has an interaction with your company
- Customer is surveyed and provides feedback
- You receive that feedback and share it throughout the organization
- You respond to the customer, thanking them for their feedback and resolving any immediate issues
- You analyze feedback received over time for trends
- You act to improve your core experience based on feedback you’ve received
- Customers have more interactions with your company, and the loop continues!
Steps 1 and 2 are covered in Getting started with Delighted Templates—we’ll dive into 3-6 below!
For an example of how "closing the loop" can be applied, see Closing the loop in ecommerce below.
Receiving and sharing feedback
Once your Templates program is up and running, feedback will automatically flow into your Dashboard. What’s important is making sure the correct members of your team have easy access to that feedback in a streamlined manner.
Establishing a steady pulse of shared customer feedback throughout your organization helps the NPS and closed loop initiatives become more ingrained in the day-to-day experience for your employees. With a regular eye on feedback, you can provide your team with the actionable detail they need to make adjustments in real-time, as opposed to when it's too late.
Who should I share feedback with?
Depending on your company's structure and support style, most customer feedback loops are handled by your frontline employees—such as support representatives and account managers.
As you determine who will be following up with your customers, be sure they: 1) Are notified of their responsibilities, 2) Are fully trained on the background and importance of NPS, and 3) Are aware of any expectations in terms of follow-up timing, messaging, etc.
It can also be helpful to share feedback with teams that may not immediately act on it—for example, responses that mention “quality” or “features” can be routed to your product team. This helps keep team members in the loop, with their fingers on the pulse of customer sentiment. It also helps when it comes time to do monthly or quarterly analysis and reporting on trends you may be observing in your feedback (see Analyzing feedback below).
How often should I share feedback?
- Frontline team: Share feedback with the team responsible for following up immediately, or at least daily.
- Key team members: Hold a frequent meeting, ideally weekly, to chat through the previous week’s feedback and any noted trends. Involve team members that can more readily enact change based on this feedback, such as engineering, marketing, and account managers.
- Company-wide: Getting the whole team organized takes a lot more, so aim for a monthly or quarterly cadence to give teams time to clear out their schedule. This company-wide meeting can focus on the larger root causes and trends gathered by frontline employees and key team members managing the closed loop process and what actions are being taken to address them.
How do I share this feedback?
- Email digest: All Delighted users will receive a regular email with a summary of feedback received over the last day, week, or month, depending on your settings. Use this email to get a general view of the type of comments that are being left!
- Alerts: Alerts can be set up to notify team members of responses that meet specific criteria via email. For example, trigger an email to your support helpdesk when detractors submit responses, or to your customer success team whenever the word “cancel” is mentioned to get ahead of churn.
- Integrations: Delighted’s host of native integrations can be leveraged to send feedback into the tools you currently use. Consider your “tech stack”—the group of tools that you use to communicate with your customers and your internal team. From reporting to messaging, you likely already have platforms that you use outside of your NPS program that could use an infusion of NPS feedback.
How to close the loop: Responding to feedback
When feedback is submitted, the experience that prompted that feedback is fresh on the minds of the customer and the employee that worked with them. This familiarity with the customer’s exact experience helps yield two distinct outcomes via the closed loop process:
- Rapid follow-up and resolution with the customer
- Ongoing learning on the part of the employee
What should I say when I reach out?
The score left by your respondents should influence how quickly you respond, as well as the tone and action items you take into the conversation. The guidelines below offer a starting point for considering how to respond to each score group.
- Timing: Act within 7 days of the NPS response
- Tone: Be appreciative and inquisitive
- Content: Since the customer has taken time to express their admiration of your brand or products, share the love. Make sure your follow-up content includes a Thank you and an opportunity for the customer to provide any additional feedback and suggestions.
- Call-to-action: Promoters will often be your most vocal supporters, so leverage that enthusiasm. If you have an external review page, pass it along to the promoter. Ask if they’d be open to sharing their testimonial with others. This is a great way to encourage word-of-mouth referrals from your most dedicated customer base.
- Timing: Act within 24-48 hours of the NPS response
- Tone: Be empathetic and investigative
- Content: Passives are satisfied overall, but may be encountering a few blockers inhibiting a truly great experience. Be receptive and understanding of any critical feedback, ensuring the customer feels their concerns are heard. Display a sense of proactive interest by digging deeper and asking follow-up questions.
- Call-to-action: Prompt passives with a few overarching questions to help spur additional conversations around any potential issues. These questions could be general (ex. “Are there any blockers you might be experiencing?”) or specific (ex. “I took a look at your account and saw you hit an error message on our billing page. Anything I can help you with there?”)
- Timing: Act within 24 hours of the NPS response
- Tone: Be serious, sympathetic, and constructive
- Content: Detractors will be the most sensitive subset of customers you contact as part of your close the loop efforts. It can be a bit intimidating, but don’t be afraid to reach out! Detractors are often frustrated, so it's helpful to acknowledge any underlying issues and provide a clear timeline on any corrective action. Not something that can be immediately resolved? Let them know you'll escalate their feedback and keep them updated on any related progress down the road. Finally, dig deeper. Ask more questions. Work to get to the root cause of any concerns.
- Call-to-action: Consider using our Thank you page to ensure detractors are routed effectively to the proper forum. Offer an escalated support contact to help them immediately bridge with your team in the case of an emergency.
How do I respond to feedback?
The first step of following up should be to customize the Thank You page based on the feedback left by your customers. Once that’s set up, you’ll need to decide how to reach out to customers that require further outreach.
While the best logistical strategy for following up with customers who submit feedback will depend on the tools and systems your team already has in place, our simplest recommendation would be to use the current tool you use for customer support.
Platforms like Zendesk and Help Scout integrate with Delighted, and you can create workflows to either draft or automatically send a follow-up email after receiving NPS responses. We recommend being discerning when choosing whether to draft or immediately send follow-up—consider whether the customer left a comment, whether they were satisfied or dissatisfied, and other relevant details about the customer before building this process.
Not seeing a native integration with the software you’d like to use to close the loop? Send us a note and we can help walk through the process to automate this, no matter which platform you’re using.
Analyzing feedback over time
Your NPS feedback may just show you the tip of the iceberg. Drive your investigation below the surface with trend and root cause analysis and reporting.
Combining properties and keywords into Trends will give you more granular control over your data, allowing you to segment responses in more nuanced ways. Be sure to pass as much customer detail as possible with each survey request. As you start gathering responses, this customer data will help you see exactly which subsets of your customers saying to you.
For example, an eCommerce store might find that detractors are often mentioning “shipping” in their comments. By creating a Trend focused on keywords like “shipping,” “packaging,” and “delivery,” the company can keep a close pulse on how customer sentiment around shipping changes over time. Similarly, a SaaS company might segment customers by plan level, creating Trends for each tier to track customer satisfaction broken out by revenue.
Root cause analysis
Simply resolving the surface-level feedback can equate to placing a bandaid on a much more substantial issue, or lead to short-term changes in favor of long-term improvements. Get to root causes and fill in the gaps to make these larger-scale enhancements.
To perform a root cause analysis, start by asking “Why?” a handful of times to understand the true source of your customer’s concerns—particularly those of your detractors.
Here's an example:
Joe received a Delighted survey from his auto repair shop 7 days after his most recent repair. In this response, Joe provided a score of 6 and the following comment:
“The repair was great, but I didn't receive the complimentary car wash that I was promised for any of my last few visits– frustrating!”
As you start investigating, dig deeper by asking “Why” multiple times:
- Why? The front desk didn't know about the complimentary car wash
- Why? The online customer record didn't provide a reminder regarding the car wash
- Why? The front desk team wasn't completely clear on how to add reminders to the customer record
- Why? The team only had a brief 30-minute training for the online database, which led to a few short-term workarounds, such as using sticky notes as reminders
There you have it! The issue can be sourced to a brief, incomplete training that led to a few bad, inconsistent habits around reminders. Running a more comprehensive training, extensively covering reminders, should solve the problem. Automating the process of adding reminders will also ensure that all future customer offers are honored in full.
Reporting on feedback
Delighted offers robust reporting features that allow you to visually represent these trends and changes in your NPS when it comes time to review your feedback.
- Snapshot report: The Snapshot report is a great first visual to share at a company-wide meeting to give everyone context into the NPS data that you’re reviewing. It includes a graph of the scores you’ve received, as well as selected comments.
- Over time report: The Over time report allows you to dive into trends in your data over time—is your NPS better this month than it was last month? Last year? This report is a great starting point to diving into root causes that might have influenced your NPS score.
- Pivot table report: Wondering how your NPS scores differ across different customer segments, or based on words that are mentioned in a response? Use the Pivot table report to dive into this specific data—it’s a super powerful tool for discovering common keywords and differences between customer groups.
Acting to improve your core experience
Nothing changes if nothing changes! To start seeing the increases in NPS score associated with a successful close the loop program, you need to act on the feedback you receive to implement improvements in your core experiences.
Renew your roadmap
Once you have clear insight into your customer feedback trends, set aside time to brainstorm with your team and establish new action items.
It’s easier to influence adoption of NPS-based action items if they are linked to a core business outcome. For example, if a SaaS company plans on fixing a bug on their billing page, what volume of detractors might be converted to passives or promoters? What financial impact can you expect by ensuring those detractors don't churn and, instead, shift towards longer retention?
Find and prioritize new opportunities where addressing customer feedback will both address the underlying issues raised by customers and ensure a notable impact against a bottom-line business metric.
Implement new plans
The next step is to kick-off improvements associated with your new action items. Layer in KPIs and milestones to ensure steady progress.
For example, if you’re addressing an NPS trend related to slow support response time, break that larger objective into granular goals, such as:
- Identify specific ticket types that clock the longest response times
- Develop saved replies to speed response times for these troublesome tickets
- Generate a regular report to keep a pulse on declining response times
- Recap response time improvements EOQ, reporting the key results from the initiative
With the above example, KPIs related to response time, resolution time, and customer satisfaction can ensure milestones are being hit, and there is clear data supporting the improvements over time.
Recap these action items with the team. Frontline employees will often escalate issues when they’re unable to resolve them directly. By providing an update on any new feedback-driven projects, and their associated results, employees will recognize that their escalations have yielded tangible change throughout the company.
Transparency, with regards to escalations, new goals, and feedback-driven outcomes, will motivate employees to engage the NPS program further. If they know they are not in it alone, team members will be more willing to surface actionable customer feedback, convert more customers towards the promoter category, and enact customer-driven change throughout your organization.
Why is closing the loop important?
Listening to your customers and acting to improve your NPS is worth it. According to Qualtrics’s transactional NPS guide, “Organizations that have long-term profitable growth have Net Promoter Scores that are double those of the average organization” (emphasis ours).
To help win organizational support for prioritizing your own close the loop program, consider the eight benefits below.
1. Deepen customer loyalty to your brand
“What can we do to build brand fanatics that we retain over time?”
NPS feedback and responsiveness are essential components of brand competitiveness. When we reach out to customers to chat about their feedback and deliver real solutions, we’ll deepen their relationship with our companies. Our promoters will be more enthusiastic about our brands. Our passives and detractors will experience our honest efforts. An improving NPS score should validate our efforts—over time, negative reviews about our brand should decline.
2. Build trust by actively caring for your customers
“Do our customers trust us enough to come to us with their issues?”
Closing the loop demonstrates our understanding and empathy around customer complaints. By engaging in consistent and caring outreach, our customers will be more and more willing to share their thoughts directly with us in future NPS surveys. We may even find that promoters and detractors alike will tout our quick response times and helpfulness.
3. Establish a direct line of support to quickly resolve future issues
“How can we jump on problems early and mitigate the damage of negative reviews?”
Quickly reaching out in response to NPS survey responses gives our customers a lifeline. As issues pop up in the future, rather than digging through our site to find contact information, they'll have a direct support email or point of contact that they can reach out to right away. Customers will come to us for answers instead of complaining about our perceived inaction.
4. Catch at-risk customers prior to churn
“How can we identify customers who may churn?”
A large number of dissatisfied customers may never reach out to our support teams or engage with our customer success teams. All too often, these customers silently grow more and more disgruntled until they churn. Delighted NPS helps to surface these otherwise silent customers, which in turn provides an opportunity to address their concerns before they cut ties.
5. Isolate product issues early
“How can we get out in front of potential product issues?”
When chatting with our customers, we may hear about bug notifications, feature requests, and more. Closing the loop with customers quickly allows us to be super responsive to product issues, limitations, and bugs as they arise. And we don’t have to act on every feature request—just communicating with our customers helps them understand our product roadmap and feel heard, reducing the chance of a negative review.
6. Identify where you’re excelling and double down
“How do we know which aspects of our experience truly drive value for our customers?”
Many companies focus only on closing the loop with detractors. However, our most vocal promoters will have very valuable insights as well. What made their experience so exceptional? What features did they find most useful? How are they getting such great value out of your product? Better understanding their use cases will help us duplicate that experience for other customers.
7. Pinpoint where you will need to improve
“How can we dig deeper to identify potential root cause issues?”
Closing the loop facilitates a process of continual improvement. Spending time following up with our respondents will give us clear insight into feedback trends and discoverable issues. Adding additional deep dive questions to a survey and passing customer details can help add context to any surfaced problems—leading us to a swift, comprehensive, and systemic resolution.
8. Automate a customer-centric culture across the organization
“How customer-centric are our normal business processes and systems?”
As our team follows up again and again with customers, the close the loop process will become second nature. Sharing feedback will seem natural. Our organizational processes will be automated around concrete customer feedback rather than hunches. NPS and close the loop will put the customer's voice at the forefront of everything we do.
Use case: Closing the loop in ecommerce
Imagine that you just purchased a shirt from a favorite online retailer. The purchase and delivery experience is flawless. The fit is perfect, the design is great, and the fabric is soft and comfy.
However, after the first wash, a decorative button pops off. Not a huge deal, easy enough to put right—but it’s still an unexpected hassle.
You then get a Delighted survey one week after your initial purchase. You provide a passive score of 7 and a few comments about how you love the garment. You also add a note that having the button pop off was “a bit disappointing.”
Within 24 hours you're contacted by a support rep who apologizes for the button and sends you a free shirt of your choice, along with a coupon for 10% off your next purchase. Imagine that experience!
Your comment wasn’t lost in a blackhole. Your NPS feedback was valued and led to quick, clear, and concrete action. This is what sets NPS and “close the loop” apart from other survey methods.
Questions about closing the loop
Do you have questions about getting started?
Reach out to our Customer Concierge team. We’d be happy to field your questions and pass along additional getting started advice!