Whether it comes early in the development lifecycle, right before launch, or between releases, customer feedback is vital to understanding what your target market wants and expects. Any time you talk directly with your market, it reveals incredible insights. That’s why carving out a process for collecting, reviewing, responding to, and taking action on feedback is critical. This is called “closing the feedback loop.”
When it comes to closing the feedback loop, there are two levels of interaction that come into play. One focuses on communication and customer experience and looks like this:
- Customer submits product feedback as issues, ideas, or praise.
- Company reviews customer feedback.
- Company responds to the customer.
The other deals with taking action on or implementing the feedback. It looks like this:
- Company receives product feedback from a customer (or customer tester).
- Teams review that feedback and decide whether it fits into their priorities.
- Teams take action on feedback, by either adding it to the backlog or closing it out.
As you can see, closing the customer feedback loop is more than just following up with users (though that part is very important). It’s also about taking decisive action. When you make the choice to engage with feedback – instead of letting it slip away into a black hole – you unveil benefits that touch every corner of the organization.
Here are three big benefits to closing the customer feedback loop.
Closing the feedback loop increases loyalty.
Everyone wants to be heard – and these days, everyone expects to be heard. If your product has a poor unboxing experience, your customers will say so on Amazon. Website down? They’ll take to Twitter. Restaurant closed during business hours? My cousin Diane is leaving a 1-star Yelp review right now. Whether it’s through review sites, social media, or product forums, opportunities to voice your opinion are ample and encouraged.
By responding to feedback, you’re showing your customers that you are actively engaged in their experience. When you thank your customers for pointing out where and how you can improve, it reduces churn and encourages loyalty. It also goes a long way toward increasing customer satisfaction. While it’s rewarding for your customers to see their suggestions implemented, communication itself fosters a deep bond — even if the problem is not one you can solve immediately.
It helps you turn insights into actions.
In addition to the customer experience benefits of closing the feedback loop, finding a resolution for feedback helps you prioritize your backlog. This is mission-critical to driving your product strategy.
People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas.
– Steve Jobs
Customer feedback elucidates what matters most to your customers, whether it’s a bug fix, a feature request, or a usability issue. When you’re actively engaging with customer feedback, you’re more in tune with what they want out of your product. While not every good idea your customers suggest is something you can focus on, their input highlights where your priorities should lie.
It keeps customers at the center of your organization.
Customer-centricity means placing customers at the center of everything you do. It’s a buzzword, but it has a backbone. Many organizations are taking meaningful steps toward embracing this concept in both company policy and company initiatives.
Closing the feedback loop is consistent with this principle because it keeps the customer experience top of mind. Empathy is a pillar of customer-centricity – you need to understand your customers’ feelings and frustrations before you can offer the right solution. Closing the feedback loop relies on it as well. It’s the process of going from Point A (listening) to Point B (empathizing) and finally, Point C (acting accordingly). By encouraging all of your employees to lean into this way of thinking – turning feedback into action – you strengthen your customer-focused goals from the inside out.
Bringing Customers Into Product Development
The earlier you start leveraging customer feedback, the easier it is to align your product with the needs of your target market. Learn everything you need to know about collecting and leveraging early customer feedback in the Feedback Playbook.