Closing the Loop
Closing the loop Closing the loop is what NPS initiatives are all about.
Closing the loop means proving to customers that you’ve heard their feedback and that you take it seriously. As responses flow in, refined NPS programs engage customers in consistent, empathetic outreach while echoing the voice of the customer throughout an organization to better understand, improve, and refine the customer experience.
Closing the loop means harnessing the energies of your entire team toward positive results. As customers raise issues that require follow-up action, your team will reach out, help out, and resolve any immediate and underlying customer experience issues with the goal of turning your detractors into promoters.
In this section
- What is Closed Loop feedback?
- What is the importance of closing the loop?
- Developing a plan
- Closing the loop (the micro)
- Closing the loop (the macro)
What is Closed Loop feedback?
Have you ever filled out a survey after a purchase? If you have, try to recall the last time someone from that company reached out after you provided feedback. Any luck? If you're having a hard time recalling a follow-up, you're not alone.
Too often, surveys are sent out, customers take valuable time in providing their sincere and honest feedback, and then– nothing. Would you ever respond to that company's survey again? Probably not.
This situation doesn't happen with NPS. Within all stellar NPS programs, companies and their team “close the loop”.
What does closing the loop mean?
In the most simple definition, “closing the loop” can be thought of as responding to customer feedback. However, there is so much more that contributes to a successful closed loop practice.
To better understand, let’s consider each step of the loop:
- Customer has an experience with your company
- Customer is surveyed and provides feedback
- Your company follows up to learn more and resolve their concerns
- Feedback is shared with the rest of the organization
- Improvements and changes are made to the core experience based on feedback
- Customer has a new experience with your company
- And on and on!
As you can see from the process described above, closing the loop means so much more than simply following up with customers. As you begin those conversations, you'll mobilize your team to take immediate action to resolve concerns, share feedback with the wider team for systemic improvements, and generally improve the customer experience moving forward.
What's an example of closed loop feedback?
Consider you just purchased a new shirt from your favorite online store. The fit is perfect, design is great, and fabric is soft and comfy. Everything seems to be flawless.
However, after the first wash, a few buttons popped off the shirt. Not a huge deal, easy enough to put back on, but it’s still an unexpected hassle.
You then get a Delighted survey 1 month after your initial purchase. You provide a score of 7, as well as a few comments about how you love the shirt, but the button situation was a bit disappointing.
Within 24 hours, you're contacted by a service rep, who apologizes for the issue and offers to send over a replacement, free of charge, as well as a giftcard for your next purchase.
Imagine that experience. Your feedback wasn't lost in a blackhole, but was immediately addressed and resolved by the company. Your feedback was valued and led to quick, concrete action. This is the closed loop process in practice, and that is what sets NPS apart from other survey methods.
What is the importance of closing the loop?
By building a solid closed loop process into your NPS program, you create an opportunity to deliver exceptional customer experiences and also collect better feedback to share with your team. In the section below, we'll cover some key benefits you'll find as you start reaching out to more and more of your customers who respond to NPS surveys.
Develop increased brand loyalty
When you reach out to customers and chat about their feedback, you add depth to their relationship with your company. Your Promoters will be reaffirmed of their enthusiasm for your brand, and Passive and Detractors will experience your honest effort to make their experience better.
Creating a level of trust and care with customers
Closing the loop facilitates a greater sense of understanding and empathy around customer issues. By engaging in consistent and caring outreach, customers will be more and more willing to share their thoughts in future surveys.
Set-up a direct line of support for future issues
Proactively reaching out in response to NPS surveys gives the customer a lifeline in case issues pop up in the future. Rather than digging through the site to find a contact page, they'll have a direct support email they can use right away.
Catch at-risk customers prior to churn (people who may not write into support)
A large number of dissatisfied customers will avoid writing into support. As a result, these customers silently grow more and more disgruntled until they churn. NPS surfaces these otherwise silent customers, which in turn provides an opportunity to address their concerns before they cut ties.
Catch product issues early
When chatting with your customers, you'll start receiving a constant stream of bug notifications, feature requests, and more. Closing the loop with customers, quickly, allows you to be super responsive to issues as they arise – preventing frustration for all customers and the potential for customers to turn into Detractors.
Identify where you’re excelling and double down in those areas
Many people focus only on closing the loop with Detractors. However, your most vocal Promoters have very valuable insight 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 of their use case will help you duplicate that experience for other customers.
Identify where you can improve (ex. Detractor/Passive/Promoter feedback)
Closing the loop facilitates a process of continual learning and improvement. Spending time following up with all your survey respondents will give you clear insight into trends in feedback and common customer issues. Beyond the initial customer comment in the NPS survey, your team's follow-up can help add more color to any surfaced issues – leading to a more swift, comprehensive resolution.
Develop a customer-centric mindset across the organization
As your team follows up again and again with customers, the process of closing the loop will become second nature. Sharing feedback will seem natural, and organizational processes will automatically be built around concrete customer feedback, vs. hunches. NPS and closing the loop will put the customer's voice at the forefront of everything you do.
Developing a plan
Set your closed loop process up for success by first spending time to develop a solid framework. Establishing expectations for your team members, investing in a bit of training, and determining how you'll be sharing feedback are all steps that will ensure your customer follow-up program is completely seamless and effective.
In this section, we'll discuss three key considerations for establishing your closed loop plan:
- Developing the frontline: Who will be notified of responses? Who should be following up?
- Leveraging your support stack: What tools will you be using for the closed loop process?
- Expanding to the macro: How often should you share feedback with the rest of the team?
Developing the frontline: Who should be following up?
Depending on your company's structure and support style, most customer follow-up is 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.
When bringing new team members into the closed loop process, a great place for them to start is our New User Guide. This guide covers the A-Z of getting up and running with Delighted.
Leveraging your support stack: What tools should be used?
Consider your current “support stack” – the group of tools that you currently use to communicate with, and support, your customers. From reporting to messaging, you likely already have a few platforms that you use outside of your NPS program (ex. help desks, CRMs, etc.)
Discuss with your team a few different ways you can integrate your closed loop process with those various platforms. Here are a few ideas to kickstart that discussion:
- Help Desks: Using a help desk like Zendesk or Help Scout? If so, consider using either integrations or alerts to automatically notify your frontline support team when Detractor comments are received. Routing feedback to your existing help desk will keep all your communication centralized, while also making it super easy for your team to act on critical customer feedback
- CRMs: Using a platform like Salesforce to manage all your customer details and relationships? Consider reviewing our integrations, either those offered by Delighted directly or via Zapier, to sync NPS feedback to your customers’ records. In terms of the closed loop process, having all customer detail in one place(including their NPS) ensures you can have more robust context to inform any subsequent conversation
- Data Visualization / Reporting: Use Delighted's powerful Reports section to visualize your data in a snapshot, over time, or by any number of other data points using our pivot table. Beyond those features, you can export your data at any time via the UI or API. If you’re using any analytic-based tools for business intelligence, such as Looker or Tableau, you might consider running regular exports of Delighted data. Delighted provides exports in CSV format, so you can quickly and easily plug that data into your business intelligence tools. By running more in-depth reporting, you can surface key insights regarding trends in customer feedback- driving more and more macro-level change across your organization.
To recap, Delighted offers a number of integrations, alerts, and exporting options to help funnel feedback into the tools you’re already using. As you discuss possible integrations with your team, select a few support stack tools that would offer a good fit for joining the closed loop process.
Expanding to the macro: How often should you share feedback?
We’ll discuss this more later in this guide, but a good rule of thumb is to create a three-tier system:
- Daily (Frontline team): Set-up alerts/integration notifications to pull frontline staff into the closed loop process as soon as a customer response is received
- Weekly (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. Use Delighted’s weekly digest to automatically deliver a summary of feedback you can chat about during your meeting
- Monthly or Quarterly (Company-wide): Getting the whole team organized takes a lot more effort to combat scheduling conflicts. 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 topics and trends gathered by frontline employees and key team members running the NPS program and managing the closed loop process. Keeping a monthly/quarterly cadence ensures that the entire company remains customer-centric and involves current feedback in their decision-making processes
Now that you have a solid framework to start approaching the closed loop process, the next step would be to dig even deeper into the micro level of following up with customers. The one-to-one support experience, between the customer and employee, is extremely fundamental to a successful feedback loop.
Closing the loop (the micro)
When a response is provided to an NPS survey, the experience is fresh on the minds of both the customer as well as the employee most directly involved with that particular customer’s experience. This familiarity with the customer’s exact experience helps yield two distinct outcomes via the closed loop process:
- Rapid learning on the part of the employee
- Rapid follow-up and resolution with the customer
As feedback is shared with employees, and as a follow-up is provided to the customer, the feedback program naturally moves away from conventional survey methods. No longer does feedback fall into a black hole, never to be seen again. Instead, NPS and the closed loop process helps catalyze change with individual employees based on actual feedback and timely, personalized, and empathetic follow-up with customers.
In this section, we’ll cover how to best set-up your closed loop feedback in the micro sense- covering best practices for sharing feedback with employees and guidelines for following up with customers.
Guidelines for closing the loop with Promoters, Passives, and Detractors
As you start following up with customer, here are a few suggestions for keeping those conversations effective in terms of resolving customer concerns and gathering more actionable insight.
- Timing: Within 7 days of NPS response
- Tone: Appreciate and inquisitive
- Content: Since the customer has taken time to express their admiration of your brand/product, don’t forget to share the love. Make sure your follow-up content includes a “Thank You” and also includes an opportunity for the customer to provide any feedback and suggestions
- Call-to-action: Promoters will most often be your most vocal supporters, so be sure to leverage that enthusiasm. If you have an external review page, feel free to pass that along to the Promoter and 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: Within 24-48 hours of NPS response
- Tone: Empathetic and investigative
- Content: Passives are satisfied overall, but may be encountering a few blockers from having a truly great experience with your company. Be receptive and understanding of any critical feedback, ensuring the customer feels their concerns are heard. Express an understanding of what may be causing the less-than-stellar experience, and also display a sense of proactive interest by digging deeper and asking follow-up questions (more on root cause analysis below)
- Call-to-action: Prompt Passives with a few overarching questions to help spur additional conversation around any potential concerns/issues. These questions could be general (ex. “Any blockers you might be experiencing?”) or specific (ex. “I took a look at your account and saw you hit an error on our billing page, anything I can help you with there?”)
- Timing: Within 24 hours
- Tone: Serious, sympathetic, and constructive
- Content: Detractors will be the most sensitive subset of customers you contact as part of your closed loop process. It can be a bit intimidating, but don’t be too afraid to reach out! Detractors are often fairly frustrated, so its helpful to own any problems they escalate, and refocus the conversation by being empathetic and solution-oriented. 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, be sure to dig deeper- ask more questions. Work to get to the root cause of any surfaced concerns (more on this later!) This can help avoid any issues from cropping up again later.
- Call-to-action: Route Detractors to an internal email to help immediately bridge their connection with your support team. Consider using our Thank You page, focused on Detractors, to ensure your more dissatisfied customers are routed internally, rather than to a public forum to express their negative experience.
Performing root cause analysis
Feedback that comes in from your NPS program will often just reveal the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, there may be other issues, concerns, and valuable feedback. When following up with customers, drive your investigation towards identifying the root cause of customer feedback to help highlight these insights.
How can you best tackle this root cause analysis? We recommend asking “Why?” of your team a handful of times to better understand the true source of the customer feedback– particularly for 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 to the survey, Joe provided a 6 score and a comment:
“The repair was great, but I didn't receive the complimentary car wash that I was promised the last few visits– frustrating!”
As you start investigating the issue, use a combination of customer follow-up and communication with your team to ask “Why?”:
- Why?- The front desk didn't have notice of 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 physical sticky notes as reminders
There you have it! The issue can be sourced to a brief training that led to a few bad, inconsistent habits around reminders. Running a more comprehensive training, extensively covering reminders, and automating the process of adding reminders will ensure all future customer offers are honored in full.
Simply resolving the surface-level feedback is often just placing a bandaid on a much more substantial issue. Take some time to get to the root of customer feedback to provide some long-term, lasting improvements.
Sharing feedback on a granular level
A work environment rich in shared customer feedback is key for ensuring your entire team can continue to learn and grow. So how do you accomplish this with the closed loop process? Two helpful steps are to share feedback often and with those most directly connected to the feedback.
Sharing feedback often
Establishing a steady pulse of shared customer feedback helps the NPS and closed loop process be more engrained in the day-to-day experience for your employees. Instead of recapping feedback once per quarter, we recommend sharing NPS feedback on a weekly or daily basis. With a more frequent cadence, you can provides your team with the actionable detail they need to make adjustments in real-time- as opposed to when its too late.
Use Delighted’s email digest, alerts, and integrations to easily, and automatically, route feedback to your team on a regular basis.
Sharing feedback with those most directly connected
Rapid learning is often easiest to facilitate when team members are connected with feedback associated with customers they’ve assisted directly. With Delighted, we recommend passing along properties for each person, department, location, or other grouping of team members that had a touchpoint in the customer’s lifecycle.
Once feedback starts rolling through the dashboard, you’ll be able to segment responses and share them with those most directly connected with that customer’s unique experience. Since those team members will be more aware of the different factors that contributed to the customer’s experience, they’ll be even more likely to learn and grow from the feedback.
Learn more about segmenting feedback via Delighted’s property guide.
Delighted tools to help streamline the process
Delighted offers a number of features that can help you easily close the loop on a micro level, both with the customer and your internal employees:
- Alerts: Set up alerts to automatically notify your frontline team as soon as Delighted responses are received. In consideration of some of the best practices for timing we mentioned above, keeping your follow-up expeditious is key- particularly with Detractors and Passives. Alerts make it quick and easy for your team to hop on that follow-up process, even outside of Delighted
- Alerts (for internal teams): In addition to notifying your frontline team of sensitive responses that require follow-up, you can also trigger alerts based on trends. Many Delighted customers will create trends for different retail sore managers, including all the location properties associated with their region. As soon as a response is received, a notification with all the response detail is routed to the manager. Take some time to consider how you may want to segment feedback into trends (based on keyword and/or property) to more effectively route your alerts
- Integrations: We have integrations for a number of help desks, such as Zendesk and Help Scout. Our help desk integrations automatically create new tickets, addressed to the customer, containing details from the Delighted response (included as private notes). Setting up one of our help desk integrations can offer another way to streamline
When deploying all the suggestions mentioned above, you’ll create an empowered and NPS-focused frontline team. Employees will have a stronger understanding of the expectations related to closing the loop with each customer type, digging deeper into the customer experience, and sharing that feedback.
Closing the loop (the macro)
In many situations, individual customer feedback, as well as emerging trends in customer sentiment, will require action that front line employees can’t individually tackle. In broadening focus beyond the customer and employee relationship, the closed loop process can spark meaningful change throughout your organization. Expanding your closed loop process to the macro stage is as simple as:
- Analyzing trends in feedback: Better understand where you’re struggling, and where you’re excelling
- Setting the roadmap: Coordinate team-wide discussions around customer feedback and develop key action items
- Implementing and evaluating: Deploy any new changes and/or initiatives, sharing the results with the team and your customers
Let's dig into each step a bit more:
Analyzing trends in feedback
As you collect more and more feedback, as well as start passing property data to Delighted, you’ll have a number of great ways to start segmenting responses and identifying trends. 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.
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 are issuing which types of feedback. With this granular detail, you can keep a pulse on any specific issues and catch them before they spiral out of control.
Setting the roadmap
Once you have clear insight into trends with your customer feedback, the next step is to set aside some time to chat with the team and establish a few action items.
Hold regular meetings with your team and start the process of linking opportunities, which tackle key customer issues, with more their intended business outcomes.
For example, if a SaaS company plans on fixing a bug on their billing page, what volume of Detractors might be converted to Passives/Promoters? What financial impact can you expect by ensuring those Detractors don't churn and, instead, shift towards longer retention? It’s always easier to influence adoption of NPS-based action items if they are linked to a core business outcome.
Find and prioritize opportunities where addressing customer feedback will: 1) Address the underlying issues raised by customers and 2) Ensure a notable impact is delivered in terms of finances, efficiency, or any other key business metric.
Implementing and evaluating
The next step is to kick-off improvements associated with those key action items. Consider layering in some KPIs and milestones to ensure you’re making steady progress.
For example, if you’re addressing a common NPS trend related to poor support response time, you might break that larger objective into more granular goals, such as:
- Identify tickets that take the longest time to receive a response
- Develop more saved replies to speed response times for those such tickets
- Generate a regular report to keep a pulse on improvements in response times
- Recap improvement on response time at the end of the quarter, showing 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.
Once you’ve wrapped up a project stemming from prioritized trends in customer feedback, be sure to recap any outcomes with the team. Frontline employees will often escalate issues to the macro level 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 feedback-driven project outcomes, will motivate employees to engage the NPS program further and continue to escalate key customer feedback and trends- solidifying the effectiveness of the closed loop process.
You’re all set!
You’re now all set with the key components required for leading a successful NPS closed loop program. With the guidelines detailed in this guide, you’ll be able to surface more actionable customer feedback, convert more customers towards the Promoter category, empower your front line team members, and better enact customer-driven change throughout your organization.
Have any questions about getting started with closed loop feedback? Reach out to our Customer Concierge team. We’d be happy to answer your questions and pass along more best practices for getting started!