The Customer Service Survey

Closing the Loop in Closed Loop Customer Feedback

by Peter Leppik on Wed, 2013-03-20 16:19

Closed Loop is a popular buzzword for customer feedback programs today. It means implementing a formal process whereby customer feedback is used to drive change in the company in order to improve customer feedback.

This kind of cycle is a powerful tool--in fact, I would argue that it's pretty much the only way to build an effective and useful customer feedback process. After all, if the customer feedback isn't being used to drive change in the company, then what's it good for?

But most advocates of a closed loop process aren't really closing the loop. That's because most supposedly closed loop customer feedback processes don't formally consider the customer survey as part of the "loop" to be "closed." In other words, the company never reconsiders whether the survey is asking the right questions of the right people. It is just assumed that the survey should keep doing the same thing no matter what.

In fact, some of the proponents of closed loop processes actually advocate for very rigid and inflexible customer surveys: specific questions, with very particular sampling methods, applied in exactly the same way for every company.

That kind of rigidity (proponents would call it "consistency") is important for cross-company and cross-industry benchmarking, but it's not very helpful when trying to improve a particular customer experience at a particular company. It even sounds a little crazy to suggest that the customer survey which will yield useful, actionable feedback from a customer logging on to a bank website is the exact same customer survey which gives useful, actionable feedback from a customer buying a used car.

Instead, the customer survey itself needs to be part of the closed loop process. As companies examine their feedback they should constantly be asking questions like:

  • Are we asking the right questions?
  • Are we targeting the right customers for the survey?
  • Is this survey yielding useful data?
  • Are there issues we should be exploring in more depth on the survey?
  • Are the right people getting the right data from the survey to make the best use of it?

The questions to ask, customers to talk to, and how to use the survey data will all change constantly as the company and its business environment evolves. The survey which works today isn't likely to be optimal a year from now, and five years from now it may seem close to irrelevant.

So when you build your closed loop customer feedback process, remember that the customer feedback also needs to change with the company.

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