Forrester Answers the 10 Questions for Closing the Customer Loop
Responding to customer feedback is critical for an effective voice-of-the-customer (VoC) program, yet far too few companies have a systematic way of doing so, according to Forrester Research.
Only 61 percent of companies can follow up with consumers who offer feedback, the firm found in a recent survey. To help companies close the customer feedback loop, Forrester suggests that companies ask the following 10 questions:
1. DO WE HAVE TO RESPOND TO EVERY CUSTOMER?
“Decisions about which customers should and should not receive responses ought to be grounded in strategy and align with customer expectations of your brand,” Forrester says in the report. However, the research firm urges companies to respond to positive feedback. “Mature brands will be able to identify their devotees and be able to leverage closed-loop conversations to deepen the understanding of these critical customers.”
2. HOW QUICKLY SHOULD WE FOLLOW UP WITH CUSTOMERS?
While the quicker the better is the top-of-mind answer, companies should optimize their approaches around their customer bases, the research firm recommends. Most companies consider 24 to 48 hours sufficient in most instances. However, Forrester cautions, inviting customer feedback and then providing unsatisfactory responses can hurt loyalty.
3. WHO SHOULD CLOSE THE LOOP?
There is no single answer, according to Forrester, which recommends that organizations look at their culture and voice-of-the-customer maturity when creating business rules. The research firm also points out that centralizing responses supports consistent messaging, while distributing responsibility helps more employees understand customer pain points.
4. HOW DO WE CLOSE THE LOOP AT SCALE?
Forrester says that many organizations turn to technology, including customer feedback management solutions, for this issue. Those looking for technology solutions should identify the feedback that needs a response, analyze and prioritize closed-loop efforts, automate alerts, and be able to intervene in real time when necessary.
5. HOW DO WE ENGAGE EMPLOYEES?
Buy-in is the biggest obstacle to successfully closing the loop with customers, according to an earlier Forrester survey. To secure buy-in, Forrester recommends first securing executive support. Once that’s accomplished, companies need to empower frontline employees to provide satisfactory responses.
6. IS “THANK YOU” ENOUGH?
“Thank you” is only table stakes, according to Forrester. Smart companies go beyond this: They apologize when things go wrong, avoid overly promotional and inauthentic messages, and try to be honest when the product features customers request aren’t being prioritized.
7. IS CLOSING THE LOOP CREEPY?
Companies need to set expectations about privacy and follow-up to establish trust with customers, Forrester says. “Clearly communicate how you will use customer feedback. Always be transparent with your customers about which personal data you collect, how you plan to use it, and what might follow after they share it with you.”
8. IS CLOSING THE LOOP IMPORTANT TO B2B COMPANIES?
Closing the loop with B2B companies is just as important as it is with B2C companies, Forrester says. The B2B CX leaders work closely with sales and account management partners to collect feedback and follow up with each respondent.
9. IS CLOSING THE LOOP WORTH IT?
“CX leaders should go beyond industry assumptions and best practices to monitor the impact of their closed-loop efforts and provide specific ROI for their organizations,” Forrester advises. “More mature programs will connect close-the-loop efforts with customer behavior to help prioritize future closed-loop strategies.”
Forrester also recommends short surveys after resolutions to confirm that the resolution did indeed satisfy the customer.
10. WHAT ABOUT THE OUTER LOOP?
Closed-loop insights are critical for innovation and action to improve CX, the research firm says. The “outer loop,” a systematic improvement process, is an ongoing aspect of an effective VoC program.
For a successful systematic improvement process, companies need to feed insights from closing the loop into larger CX and analysis processes and then proactively solve customer problems, Forrester concludes in the report.