Closing the loop: Turn feedback into action
One of the most common criticisms placed upon Customer Experience specialists is that they have no way of concretely tying their data in with increased revenue and profit. While this conventional thinking has become increasingly untrue with the invention and widespread adoption of metrics like Net Promoter Score (NPS) or Customer Effort Score (CES), there are still many individuals that doubt the enormous impact that fostering consistently excellent relationships with customers can have.
Understandably, individuals have a hard time convincing CFOs the value of making the financial investment towards Customer Experience, because the long-term benefits are often overshadowed by the short-term costs. This is especially true when dealing with negative customer feedback, because a popular opinion is to focus on acquiring new customers rather than figuring out why these customers had problems in the first place. However, by instilling an environment that encourages employees to close the loop instead of moving on to the next customer is the best way to uncover areas of the Customer Experience that need improvement, promote sustainable growth, and foster the best customer relationships.
Closing the loop is a term that is used to describe the practice of reaching out to customers that provide negative feedback, not in an attempt to convince them to change their minds, but instead to just understand why they had a poor experience. This method is an illuminating tool for those within an organization looking to optimize Customer Experience because it provides great information about specific actions that led to a customer having a negative experience, and most of the time, it convinces the customer to give your organization another chance even though that is not the main goal. If a company is only focused on selling and accruing new customers, taking the time and effort to question an already lost soul can seem frivolous, especially to those in charge of segmenting the available budget.
However, this can be a dangerous way to operate because it encourages employees to look past individual interactions, focus solely on reaching sales goals, and leaving a slew of unsatisfied customers in the rearview mirror. This collection of tarnished individuals can quickly build into a large group, all with something negative to say about the services provided by your brand. However, closing the loop can reduce the number of soured individuals, and limit the financial impact that brand detractors can place on an organization. Focus on this idea of diminishing the financial impact of these negative opinions with concrete numbers and statistics as a method to convince those in charge of the importance of closing the loop.
The most alarming part of the constantly-selling attitude is that these organizations do not realize the negative impact that creating these disgruntled consumers has on not only the bottom line, but also the overall brand identity. In a world where there are endless customer reviews and opinions, consumers rely upon their peers for feedback before committing to a purchase more than ever. Whether it is a restaurant, department store or car dealership, people are googling and asking their friends on social media for all opinions before they even walk in your door or visit your website. The more negative reviews that are out in the world, the less likely people are to choose your brand over the competition.
By training employees to make personal contact with disgruntled consumers, your organization is positioning itself to continuously improve its interactions with customers, and create a brand perception focused on providing value to the customer, rather than one revolving solely around making profit. To get this feedback, there needs to be mechanisms in place that opens communications between brands and customers, which will take both a financial and mental commitment from your organization and its employees. This outreach can take shape in the form of voice of customer feedback surveys, NPS surveys, or social media service accounts.
Regardless of the format, this interaction between brand and consumer has reached unforeseen levels of connectivity, and if your organization is not listening already, then it is most likely already behind the curve. Start closing the loop and begin to unlock problem areas, improve individual customer interactions, and diminish the amount of brand detractors your organization creates.
Bio: Daniel Bakst is the Social & Digital Marketing Associate for Second To None, a leading Customer Experience research firm that empowers customer-centric brands to deliver consistent, intentional and authentic consumer experiences. We adeptly design and manage mystery shopping,...