Setting the Stage
If you are reading this, you may already have some sort of customer feedback process in place as part of your overall customer experience strategy. Many organizations collect and may analyse all kinds of data from number of customer interactions, to social media listening. However, hundreds of organizations struggle with two very important things; taking action to drive true business impact and follow up with the most important shareholder, the customer.
This is where businesses are in need of a closed loop process. Closing the loop on customer feedback means you are listening to the customer, taking action on their inputs, and driving positive, transformational change within your organization to improve the overall customers’ experience. Ultimately, this approach should penetrate your culture and drive a more engaged environment and customer-centric culture.
The graphic below depicts a very basic framework.
There are three main areas that are key to any successful closed loop system that drive business impact. This includes having a firm foundation, establishing a structured and automated process, and clear accountability with roles and responsibilities that lead to cross-functional ownership and transformational change. Let’s dig into those three areas in more detail.
I have worked with many companies over the years that have gone and implemented a “Voice of Customer” or “VoC” program and what they simply have done is developed a survey for a particular customer during a particular event throughout their customer journey. I have found that these programs are the most unsuccessful and usually die within a year or so because they didn’t have the key elements of a firm foundation.
Based on my own experience and industry best practices, I have found that the most successful companies have at least the following before they even set out collecting customer feedback:
- Clear vision – having a clear vision of what their CX program is and what it is not. Defining clear objectives or values, tying them to your overall corporate strategy, and embedding them into your brand and employee expectations is a must.
- Executive buy-in – if you don’t have at least one executive from your most senior leadership team bought into your strategy, you will have a very long road ahead of you. Having a champion have your back will help you with the headwinds and sustain your during the toughest of times.
- Metrics – defining a key customer metric that your business feels is the best representation of your customers experience is crucial. Leadership needs to be completely bought into the collection, calculation, and analysis of this metric, whether it is Net Promotor Score, Customer Lifetime Value, Customer Effort or any other hybrid your business comes up with. This metric could be a mix of customer satisfaction, ease of doing business, and likely to recommend or refer. Implementing a measurement system to collect this data in its purest form and the ability to link it to actual business outcomes such as customer retention or new sales revenue is step one in a successful close the loop process.
Establish a Process
When evaluating and developing a closed loop process, be sure to design processes that address not only your immediate customer feedback like your survey responders like detractors, passives, and promotors, but also keep in mind analysing, reporting, and taking action on the more strategic themes of feedback you may be getting. Each need a clear communication plan and follow up strategy. This doesn’t mean you have to call every customer who responds to a survey. You need to balance effort and value.
Taking action on the individual bits of customer feedback can be as simple as developing business rules and alerts into a workflow that can assign tasks to a designated individual or group. Now not every piece of feedback requires action. This is where your business needs to develop prioritization criteria, delegation authorities, and follow up protocols.
Now that you are collecting the customer data, analysing and finding that there are key drivers or “themes” that seem to be the biggest pain point’s customers are feeling, this is where rubber needs to hit the road and often times companies miss.
Prioritization criteria can be as simple as using a four-squared approach:
In whatever technology or tool you decide to have, make sure it includes the ability to build out effective alert parameters, escalation delegations, and automate communications where possible. These are key elements to tool that is not only a data collection source, but a true actioning tool that can be leveraged at every level of the organization.
Having a designated person or team in each functional area that is skilled in evaluating business problems, leading projects, and influencing change is critical to the success of taking any action with customer feedback. These individuals have to be passionate about driving change and bringing the voice of the customer into meetings, board calls, or other critical business reviews.
They not only have to be passionate about driving a better customer experience, but held accountable to lead root cause analysis efforts, lead after action reviews, or the alike that can bring functional groups together and are empowered to make process and systemic changes. This can include product managers, team leaders, account managers, divisional leaders, etc.
So why do you need a closed loop system, you ask? It sounds like a lot of time, money, and effort to build. Simply put, would you like your company provide a “world-class” customer experience? Would you like to be known for how you listened to your customer and they actually felt the changes you made?
Having a closed loop system helps you accomplish key strategic business goals such as reducing churn, increasing up-sell opportunities, improving business processes, and employee retention. Some other major benefits include gaining a deeper understanding of your customers’ needs that will help build loyalty, provide product development and innovation ideas, and build employee engagement and trust.
Lastly, leveraging champion customers can also help in building out your brand organically and save you on marketing costs. But most importantly, driving tactical and strategic business decisions off of the customer voice can help build a more efficient and profitable business and lead the way to true business transformation.