Closing the loop on customer feedback

If you collect customer feedback, or are thinking about implementing a feedback collection system such as a survey, consider adding in one essential component: a way to close the loop.

What is closed loop feedback?

Unlike anonymous feedback, closing the loop allows you to circle back with individual customers. Knowing how a specific customer feels about your product, service, or their latest interaction with your business can allow you to fix a problem, ask additional questions to dig deeper into a particular issue, or simply thank them for their business.

Why use closed loop feedback?

Let me give you three quick examples that illustrate the value of closed loop feedback.

A delivery driver for an express shipping company left a case of wine on my doorstep one day. Aside from failing to get the required adult signature, the driver subjected the wine to potentially harmful heat by leaving it outside. The shipping company never solicited my feedback, so I never bothered to tell them about this incident. However, the next time I ordered wine, I told the winery about my poor experience and insisted that they use another shipper. 

A termite inspector was overly pushy on two occasions, so when it came time again for another inspection I called another company. The termite company never bothered to follow-up with me to ask for feedback on the inspection or to remind me it was time to schedule another one, so they lost my business rather than giving themselves a chance to earn it back.

My wife and I had a poor check-in experience at a hotel that made it unlikely that we’d return. A few days after our visit, I received a follow-up email from the Front Office Manager in response to a survey I completed. He was closing the loop! In his email, he apologized for the poor experience, thanked us for our candid feedback, and offered to comp our room on our next visit. We ended up taking him up on his offer and even traveled with a friend who also booked a room at the hotel. The free room more than paid for itself after we visited the hotel bar, dined at their restaurant, and our friend paid for her room. Even more important, the Front Office Manager prevented us from taking our business to a competitor by closing the loop.

How to implement a closed-loop feedback system

There are many ways to do it, but here are a few you can easily implement:

Add an optional question at the end of your survey that allows customers to provide their contact information and give you permission to follow-up. Hotels often do a great job of using this technique.

Call or email customers in your database to ask them for direct feedback on your product or service. Netflix provides a great example, where they periodically email customers a one question survey such as, “When did this video arrive?” along with an invitation to contact them if more assistance is needed.

Ask customers in person. Why not ask for feedback directly when you have face to face contact with your customers? The technicians who work for Ideal Plumbing, Heating, Air, and Electrical always ask if everything is okay and if there is anything else they can do.