ArticleBest PracticesApril 1, 2019
How to Close the Loop With Customer Feedback Image

How to Close the Loop With Customer Feedback

There’s nothing worse than submitting feedback about a product you love and hearing nothing back. Okay, there’s probably a few things that are worse, but it’s still pretty painful when it happens.

It feels like they aren’t really listening to you, and if they aren’t listening, then do they really even care?

Now imagine that your customers are experiencing this disappointment, day-in, day-out. They’re providing you with high-quality feedback and you aren’t responding to them, you aren’t closing the loop.

The feedback process doesn’t end with you using the feedback you’ve been given, it ends with you communicating back to the customer. As it turns out, this communication is probably the most important part.

If you don’t close the loop you risk alienating your customers. Best case scenario: They stop helping you to build a better product. Worst case scenario: They look elsewhere.

So, with that in mind, let’s look at some of the ways you can close the loop when it comes to customer feedback...

1: Transparency

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An honest, open approach to your feedback process is the best way to close the feedback loop. If your customers can always see when feedback changes status, or when items are added to your roadmap, then the loop is effectively closed for them.

How you go about opening up access to your customers and enabling them to see what you’re working on largely depends on how you manage your feedback in the first place.

If you use a product like Receptive, then that’s all taken care of for you. Customers will be able to see what you have planned, what you’re working on, and what’s just been released.

If you currently use a mixture of spreadsheets and Trello boards, you may not want to share them with your customers. In this scenario, you might consider creating a different spreadsheet or Trello board that is designed for customers to view. You can then add any updates to this.

The benefit of a transparent approach is that customers can see updates as and when they choose. It helps customers understand where their requests fit in, and they can see first-hand what you’re working on. They can also self-serve, and access the information themselves, reducing time spent having those conversations with your customer-facing teams.

2: Set Expectations

Closing the loop doesn’t only happen at the end of the cycle. You can actually start by setting expectations from day one. This takes the pressure off you when it comes to communicating with customers.

A great way of setting expectations is by creating a Product Feedback Policy (PFP) and sharing it with your customers. A PFP is a simple document (kind of like a Support SLA) that basically tells your customers how you collect, manage, and use their feedback.

Sharing this with your customers means they’ll understand how their feedback will be taken on board, and will also be more patient when it comes to receiving updates.

There’s a template on how to write a PFP here. You can then share your policy with your customers, fellow employees, and even make it publicly available if you want to.

3: Politeness

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Most parents raise their children to say please and thank you. It’s basic politeness. Unfortunately, a lot of companies could still do with learning that lesson.

It’s easy to hide behind a corporate brand and think that good manners don’t apply to you, but ultimately, businesses are still ran by people, and so being polite is important.

Whenever a customer submits a piece of feedback, you should thank them for it. Send them a message or an email and thank them for their time. Make sure to explain your process (see: point #2).

This simple act of politeness makes all the difference. Suddenly, your customers feel like their opinions are genuinely valued. That means that they’re far more likely to provide feedback in future, and that can only be a good thing.

4: Automation

If it sounds like closing the loop will be a lot of work, then you should consider automating it completely. In fact, you should probably automate it no matter what. It’ll help a lot as you scale up.

If, for example, you’re collecting feedback through an online form, set it up so that when a customer fills in the form they’ll be sent an email thanking them and setting expectations. That covers points #2 and #3 right away.

As for when you need to update a customer regarding the status of their request, you could create a sneaky workaround by having a publicly available “Releases Page” (many companies do this anyway) that your customers can access to see if their request has been released.

Automating the process takes all the legwork away, ensuring that you close the loop without all the time and effort.

Summary

Closing the loop is possibly the most important aspect of your feedback process. Fortunately, provided you put some work in at the start (create a PFP, set up automated messages, publish a releases page) then you’ll be good to go and the loop will effectively close itself.

Picture of Joe Daniels
Joe Daniels Head of Content, Receptive Joe Daniels is Head of Content at Receptive

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