Closing the loop in an electrical sense means closing off a circuit, there is a gap somewhere that is preventing a successful flow of energy.  The lightbulb won’t glow if there’s a break in the wire connected to it.  We can apply the same analogy in a customer experience sense.  Something has happened along the customer journey where a customer has given feedback where they have been angered (or delighted) by the experience.  There’s two key loops that need to be closed here for actions to be triggered and improvements made, the external loop and internal loop.

This sounds simple right? So why doesn’t everyone do it when it is proven to increase customer spend and reduce churn?  Temkin reports that companies who provide a good response to customers who report bad experiences have 41% fewer customers cutting back on their spending.  A Gartner study pointed out, 95% of companies collect feedback, but just 10% use the feedback to improve, and only 5% tell customers what they are doing in response to what they have heard..  When was the last time you heard from a company after providing feedback?  Were you surprised when you did hear back?  The point is customer experience doesn’t just start and stop when the customer is in your store, but it’s ongoing thing and you may recover or lose a repeat customer quite easily.

External loop

Closing the loop externally is following up with the person who has given you the feedback in the first place.  This task of following up is so that both parties have the same understanding of what has happened.  Sometimes the context of an experience can be lost in the verbatim, so getting a clear picture of what happened before, during, and afterwards is necessary.  Is the feedback related to behaviour of staff such as service, or operational such as the layout of the store.  This will help the team really get a sense of what corrective action they may take to improve the experience.

On the other foot, closing the loop externally can be a simple “thank you” for taking the time for providing feedback and explaining this is what happens next.  Appreciating customers who have taken the time out to provide feedback is proven to build engagement and grow loyalty.  This will also open up opportunity to invite the customer to spend more or invite them to a “valued customers only” event where they can bring their immediate friends or family.

Internal loop

Internally, action should have been triggered by the feedback.  Customer experience management is an active team sport.  Just like closing the loop externally, the team on the inside with closing off the loop means something has changed or improved.  Feedback collected from customers need to have a root cause analysis conducted to establish if this is a simple one off, or is a larger problem that has potential to impact across the brand.

For example after corrective action has been made, like a service improvement of the service assistant approaching customers and using different language, should be measured after this to gauge the effectiveness.  This will lead to the continuous improvement and new process where by the customer experience has improved for all afterwards.

There’s a great way for the wider team to play a part in closing the internal loop.  As we’ve discussed in our other blog post, discussing as a group the wins that you have got from corrective action can bolster the improvement with potentially everyone in the company on board with the strategic change.  Like if that way of approaching customers on the floor sees an uplift, that can form the basis of a new service model of customer engagement.

Here are some tips to close the loop systematically:

  • Automated user notifications that are triggered based on customer responses
  • Set up workflows and case tracking
  • Thank customers for their feedback, appreciate them, empathize with them
  • Share the insights with others
  • Conduct root cause analysis
  • Let customers know what you did and what the new experience will be. Invite them back to try.
  • Train employees on the resolution/new experience
  • Remeasure: What do customers think about the new experience? Do they consider the issue to be resolved? How well did you improve the experience?