You have built an amazing product. You have a sales motion in place to sell it to the world. Customers have started buying it.
How will you know if you are customers liking your product? Is it serving their purpose for which it was built? What pros or cons do customers think about their products?
Any wise business that wants to serve its customers the right way and build on its reputation will look into customer feedback. It is here that the customer feedback loop comes in the picture.
What is a feedback loop?
A feedback loop is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) strategy devised to help a business better understand its customers’ next course of action or decision.
If applied to customer service, it is a powerful business communication strategy that can help the business improve its customer satisfaction drastically.
From a customer service perspective, a feedback loop works in three stages.
In fact, these stages work like a cycle where each step collects input from its predecessor and creates output for the next.
Understanding each stage of the customer feedback loop
A feedback loop has three stages to it. At each stage, the business gathers information about the customers, gets a better understanding of their needs, and applies the learning to improve the customer experience.
Here is a detailed look into each of those stages.
The first step to building the customer feedback loop is to collect customer feedback.
Consider this as the basic data that will help you build an understanding of customers. Without this data, consider your feedback loop to be a stalled car in the middle freeway.
It is not going to get you far.
To make things difficult, gathering customer feedback is also the hardest part. Your customers might interact with your business on a daily basis.
They might visit your website, online store, physical store, buy, sell, or return goods with great velocity.
But, when it comes to collecting feedback from them, most businesses hit a dead-end.
The dead-end is a certain incident if you are trying to collect feedback through a single channel.
Soliciting customer feedback from multiple sources is what would help you gather an ample amount of customer feedback. The image below depicts some of the most commonly resorted channels to seek customer feedback.
That said, here are some channels that you can leverage to gather maximum customer feedback based on which you can fine-tune your business operations.
- Net promoter Score Surveys (NPS)®
- Social listening
- In-app surveys
- Customer interviews
- CSAT survey
- Customer support
- Website chat
Net promoter Score Surveys (NPS)®
NPS, The two-question survey model is perhaps the best bet for a business to measure customer loyalty. Additionally, Net Promoter Score Surveys also helps gauge the probability of customers turning into mouthpieces for the business.
Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram — the list of social media channels are literally endless. Your customers could be active in all of these and many more social channels as well. Social listening is the process of tuning into what customers are talking about your brand. It is possible to track brand mentions using hashtags, brand mentions, images, and so on.
If your product has a mobile app or is a mobile app, it provides an excellent opportunity to gather customer feedback at specific junctures or scenarios in the app. The survey questions can be fine-tuned to make it relevant to the specific app screen thus helping garner contextually relevant feedback.
The old-school method and perhaps the most rewarding of them all. Direct customer interviews help gather from the customer what exactly they were expecting from the business and what they got in return. It also sets the stage to make the customer quote some positive words about the business that can be used as testimonials in websites, sales collaterals, and the likes.
The calls, emails, and tickets that your customer support team gets from time to time is an excellent source of customer feedback. It can also shed light on whether their issues were resolved on a timely basis, what issues took longer than resolve, recurring issues that need a permanent fix, and so on.
A live chat software or chatbot on your business website can act as a funnel that channels customer questions and segments into various categories. The chat software or chatbot can offer relevant replies to the visitor. The conversations that are exchanged between the software and the user can be data mined to understand customer queries, sentiments, and feedback.
All the data that is gathered is of some use only if it is analyzed. According to Ronald Coase, the British Economist, if you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything.
The ‘learn’ stage of the customer feedback loop is all about torture, or to put in a subtle way — all about analyzing your data.
It helps learn about the fine aspects of your customer feedback, the hidden sentiments in them, the overall brand perception, and how customers would react to your business in the future.
There are two ways to look at customer feedback. You can isolate positive reviews and figure out the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of customer satisfaction. Is it product quality, superior customer service, affordable pricing, or anything else?
Alternatively, the learning stage also identifies why certain customers had bad experiences.
It helps identify whether the customer had abnormal expectations or weather the business genuinely lapsed to prove great customer service.
Beware of the confirmation bias trap
While analyzing customer feedback data, ensure that you don’t fall into the confirmation bias trap.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to look at the information in such a way that it confirms the conceptions and beliefs that you already have in your mind.
If it were a relay, the application stage would be the last of all laps in closing the feedback loop. Think of it as the stage where you are armed with knowledge about customer feedback and are in the place where you can make changes to boost customer satisfaction.
Most often businesses shy away from making changes because they are afraid that it will affect the status quo.
There is also the constant worry that a smooth-running process, a successful product or a sales motion might be detrimentally affected if the changes are made.
On afterthought, that is not the case. Sometimes, you have to make only small changes to see big results in the long-run.
For example, if you are a SaaS product your customers could be finding it difficult to locate a button because it is not amply visible amidst the skin of the application.
A subtle change in the button’s color could probably increase clicks and subsequent customers’ actions.
If not for the feedback loop, your business will not come to know of this unique challenge that customers are facing.
Tactics that help close the feedback loop
If executed well, a feedback loop is an opportune moment to reduce churn and maximize customer retention. Wondering how? Here are your answers.
Create a hook for the next purchase
An average customer feedback loop ends with an automated ‘Thank you’ message. It is blunt and does not invoke any action more than closing the tab.
However, if it can be replaced with a hook for a next purchase — say, a question like ‘ What would you like to do next?”, it entices the customer to stay in touch with the business.
Be informed that this may not apply for B2B scenarios where the sales cycle is convoluted and has multiple layers to it.
However, in a B2C scenario, this might be just the nudge that a customer needs to rethink churning and instead remain loyal.
Ask for a referral
Not all customer support tickets and feedback interviews end on a positive note. If your support team is crushing it, most of your feedback loops should be ending on a positive note.
Now that is a mine to tap into. You can use a positive-ending feedback loop as an opportunity to seek a referral from the customer.
Chances are that a customer who has just experienced a good experience might be in a mindset to refer their near or dear ones quickly.
Automate the process
Like with any other customer-centric process, the feedback loop also breaks its chain of activity when it is overly reliant on manual actions.
Humans make mistakes. Agents miss sending thank you emails. A lot of other errors can creep that can put your feedback in jeopardy.
However, with automation, you can iron out all those discrepancies.
A customer feedback loop must seem like an overlapping concept with customer feedback. But, if you look at it with intent, you will observe that it has many stages to it that makes it relevant for heightened customer understanding. It brings to light subtle nuances about customer expectations that other channels may miss to capture.
All said, implementing a customer feedback loop can actually put your business on the right track to driving customer satisfaction at scale.