Closing The Loop on Customer Feedback

by Jeannie Walters

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Last week was a wonderful chance to connect with several other customer experience professionals at the Chicago Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA) Local Networking Event. We ate, drank and chatted about what issues we’re facing. One thing that comes up over and over again is how challenging it can be to close the loop on customer feedback. Customers provide insights all the time – chatting with customer service reps; sending emails through the contact forms on web sites and even describing a pain point to a friend who works at the company.

Too often, the feedback, while incredibly valuable, dies quickly. The forms are ignored, the rep doesn’t have the proper place to record the feedback, the friend isn’t encouraged to recognize the complaint from a friend as actual customer feedback.

customer feedbackClosing the loop on customer feedback means turning those words into action. If your company doesn’t have the fanciest customer relationship management software (or even if it does), make it a point to encourage your employees to turn comments into customer experience improvement. You could have all the fancy software in the land and if your team doesn’t really internalize how to react to important feedback, it’s not going to do much.

Part of our role in focusing on customer experience is really about observation. In one particular case of Customer Experience Investigation™, I planted myself in a bank lobby and watched the customer interactions all day long. One after another came in, waited in line for a teller, and then spent a few minutes explaining the reason he or she was even in the bank – the online system was so painful it wasn’t worth it. The poor experience online literally drove them into the branch. The teller, acting on training, was empathic and understanding and took care of the business at hand in a friendly and efficient manner. Per this training, the teller then asked the customer if the customer’s business was completely handled. Typically, the customer would smile and say yes, but mutter something about how online would’ve been easier. But since the customer had answered yes, the teller was pleased! If the customer was then asked to fill out a survey, most would respond the “most recent interaction” with the bank was a friendly and efficient process.

See what’s missing?

The tellers, at the end of this day, gathered around and I asked some questions.

What’s going well?

They all felt customers liked them and saw they cared about their customers. (This was partially true.)

What’s not going well?

Some – not all – did mention customers complained about the online banking process. But, thanks to the way humans rationalize, they also said things like “but they don’t mind coming into the bank.”

What should we improve?

This related directly back to their work environment. We needed to improve the wait time for customers so they weren’t quite as grumpy once they got up to the teller.

The customers who HAD complained were really not heard at all. And therein lies the rub. If we train and ask our employees to focus on the moment of NOW and how to make the customer happy as quickly as possible, then we don’t always stress the importance of really hearing the customer. And then what to do with the feedback they hear.

Closing the loop on customer feedback is certainly about follow up and tracking surveys and providing feedback mechanisms, but it’s also about providing the right pathway for employees.

What’s the last loop you closed with a customer?

Photo credit: boltron via Creative Commons license


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Jeannie Walters

Jeannie Walters is the CEO/Founder of Experience Investigators, a global Customer Experience consulting firm. She has 20 years of experience helping companies improve loyalty and retention, employee engagement, and overall customer experience. Jeannie is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP,) a charter member of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA,) a Professional Member of the National Speakers Association, LinkedIn Learning instructor, TEDx speaker, and President-Elect of the National Speakers Association Illinois chapter. Learn more here.

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