Product Development

The Beginner's Guide to Closing the Customer Feedback Loop

June 17, 2019

Like it or not, customers will have feedback. How you respond to that feedback influences their decisions. Will they continue to be a customer? Will they flame your brand on Reddit? Or leave a strongly worded negative review?

The right way to handle customer feedback is to close the loop. That doesn't mean you implement every crazy idea. But, you may have to acknowledge those ideas exist. 

What is the Customer Feedback Loop?

The “customer feedback loop” or “closed loop feedback” is the process of responding to and acting on customer input

When customers encounter obstacles, giving feedback is a natural response. To activate the loop, you'll need to receive, review, and respond to feedback; a practice to provide a resolution for the customer — this is closing the feedback loop.

Closing the Customer Feedback Loop | Taking Action on Feedback

Closing The Loop

Considering customer feedback creates a positive brand reputation. Closing the loop creates an environment that empowers decisions with data. It also nurtures customers into loyal and satisfied brand evangelists. Spreading the word of your product to new audiences. 

Whether it's thanking customers for their feedback or implementing a hotpatch to address an issue, the feedback loop is vital. But with so many channels for feedback (e.g., surveys, chatbots, email, etc.), are you confident that you’ll see customer requests?

Now, let's navigate the tactics and dig into the actionable process on how to close the feedback loop.

How To Close the Loop On Customer Feedback

For newcomers, handling customer feedback can be like reviewing your inbox after a few weeks of vacation. It's time-consuming, nerve-wracking, and if not done carefully, you'll miss something important.

What you need is a game plan. A process will help you climb the mountain of feedback and uncover the treasure of valuable customer insights. Here's the three steps we recommend for managing feedback. 

1. Collect

Feedback comes throughout the product lifecycle and can take the shape of surveys, tickets, or unintelligible emojis. During development you'll request feedback from customers. Using methods like usability studies, interviews, and beta testing. 

In contrast, after launch will be a mixture of requests and feedback being hurled at you. Often through social media posts, reviews, and support tickets. The channels for feedback after release are much more diverse and challenging to manage.

Each method and channel can influence the expectation customers will have when they provide feedback. Use the knowledge of timing and expectations to set the tone for your review and response. 

2. Review 

Reviewing feedback is a daunting task, so set up rules for prioritizing. Use the information about when and where the feedback came from as a starting point. Trending, high impact features, and VIC (Very Important Customers) are great additions. 

For example, during a beta test you'll have issues that are experienced by more than one tester. It may also be a bug with an important product feature. This should take priority over a trivial edge case.

Review the feedback and determine what action you will need to take. This will influence your response.

3. Respond

Finally, closing the loop means responding to your customers. Acknowledge their feedback, thank them for their time, and communicate the actions you intend to take. This demonstrates that you value their input, reinforcing their trust in your business. 

Remember, responding to feedback is not a one-time process, but an ongoing conversation that fosters better relationships with your customers.

Why Is It Important to Close The Feedback Loop?

Closing the feedback loop is a process for fixing problems and enhancing features. Acting on these requests or opinions helps avoid disgruntled customers. And, competitors love opportunities to learn from your mistakes. So, don't let customer feedback be the reason why they take your market share.

Imagine you ordered a salad and it was delivered with no dressing. As everyone else is eating, you've asked for dressing three different times. Your salad is dry and unsatisfying. The bill arrives. How are you feeling?

Part 1 of an 8-panel comic showing a person ordering a salad in a restaurant, not receiving dressing, then attempting to ask the server for dressing multiple times while looking increasingly frustrated.
Part 2 of an 8-panel comic showing the person receiving their bill despite not receiving the salad dressing. The frustrated customer communicates their unhappiness with the manager of the restaurant before leaving a negative review and calling their friends and family to tell them about their poor experience.

You've provided a request to whom you thought would best be able to act on it. Now, your feedback has turned into a merciless complaint. 

By addressing and responding to customer feedback proactively, you can shift the narrative from mere issues or complaints to constructive dialogue. This dialogue can deliver tangible benefits for your product, including:

  • Enhancing customer relationships
  • Increasing customer satisfaction
  • Capturing more revenue
  • Quantifying your impact on the product or organization
  • Creating a way to be more efficient and effective through process

Best Practices for Closing the Feedback Loop

Accompany any process, are lessons learned. So we've created a list of best practices so you can more effectively manage closed loop feedback.

Focus on feedback earlier – There are dozens of ways to collect feedback. Some happen sooner in development and others happen beyond release. You can avoid the overwhelming tornado of customer feedback, shrink the time it takes to collect additional feedback details, and amplify the value of closing the loop by creating brand evangelists.

Respond punctually – Act on feedback shortly after it’s provided, taking the customer’s cue and picking up the dialogue. Delay, and your response may seem irrelevant, odd, or confusing.

Add customer context – Have a clear idea about the customer’s relationship with you to date, and the events that led to their feedback. If you misunderstand what’s happened or offer the wrong kind of follow-up, you’re unlikely to enhance the relationship.

Always prioritize – Different customers will have different needs. Tailor your response depending on the size of the purchase, the nature of the relationship to date, and how the feedback-inducing interaction played out.

Are You Ready to Start Closing the Loop?

The power of the feedback loop lies in this 3-step actionable approach. You're not just a silent receptacle for feedback; you’re actively assessing and responding to it. This is the essence of the customer feedback loop: to not only hear what your customers are saying, but to understand their needs, acknowledge their input, and actively make changes that reflect their feedback.

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.”

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