Customer Engagement researchers have always battled the Open Loop—i.e., the difficulty of actually using customer satisfaction survey results to improve company performance. In a recent blog post, we explained how our Customer Engagement solution allows companies to respond to customer feedback in real-time, resolving one of the most frustrating aspects of the Open Loop. We also explored how today’s Enterprise Feedback Management technology can help companies carry out Closed-Loop customer feedback research. In this post, we zoom out to provide a more complete picture of the Closed-Loop feedback process. Along the way, we relate our methods for closing the loop. Finally, we’ll list benefits of Closed-Loop customer feedback programs.
Basically, Closed-Loop systems do what all market research aims to do: adjust company procedures according to what customers actually want. The Closed-Loop process begins with testing a specific metric, such as Customer Engagement. Once customer feedback on that metric has been gathered and analyzed, the next step is to share survey results with employees. With guidance from management, employees proceed to make changes that will help boost the metric. More customer feedback may be obtained at this point, as the company tests and refines the changes. If the metric is indeed higher after the changes have been made, the Closed-Loop customer feedback process has been successful.
PeopleMetrics Customer Engagement model is a Closed-Loop customer feedback system. We measure Customer Engagement, since our research has shown a strong connection between Customer Engagement and business outcomes, including earnings per share, ROI, and gross margin. Our online CEM dashboard distributes survey results to managers and front-line employees, according to the access level assigned to each. Mainly for our B2C clients, we also include a library of best practices to improve Customer Engagement. Most of our clients regularly gather customer feedback, partially to determine if engagement-boosting strategies are working. Finally, our system improves on the basic Closed-Loop model by tracking individual customer complaints and requests through a system of Action Alerts. These alerts allow companies to respond to individual customers’ feedback.
1. Setting Priorities
There are many benefits to Closed-Loop customer feedback systems. First, by completing the research circle, companies can prioritize actions that will improve Customer Engagement, or whatever metric they are measuring. Customers’ needs are related to management in Closed-Loop systems, whereas in Open-Loop systems, poor distribution of survey results often means that company leaders never understand what customers want. Closed-Loop systems include Enterprise Feedback Management solutions to centralize and redistribute survey results, so that strategists are better informed.
2. Improved Performance
Another, more obvious benefit of Closed-Loop models is that they can actually improve the metric in question. Here at PeopleMetrics, we help companies boost Customer Engagement and Employee Engagement. Our Closed-Loop system allows companies to track engagement levels over time, so that actual results may be seen. In contrast, Open-Loop systems never complete the research cycle, so it is difficult to know how market research spending is impacting performance.
3. Return on Investment
This leads to a third, crucial benefit of Closed-Loop research: measurable return on investment. Open-Loop systems make it difficult to see how market research budgeting benefits the company. Of course, this depends on which metric you are measuring as well; we choose to measure Customer Engagement because it correlates with higher customer retention and sales.
4. Fast Results
Finally, as mentioned earlier, PeopleMetrics’ Closed-Loop Customer Engagement Management solution allows companies to see additional ROI in the form of immediate results--new sales and retained customers. As customers respond to survey questions, they often report problems or additional needs. PeopleMetrics reports this invaluable feedback through Action Alerts. Our Action Alert system warns companies of waning customers through Recover Alerts. It also points out opportunities to garner new business (through Grow Alerts). Our Market Alert indicates a testimonial that may be especially suited for marketing. And finally, our Recognize Alert is sent when a customer reports that an employee did an especially good job.
All in all, it’s clear that Closed-Loop systems are beneficial in many ways. Open-Loop systems are like torn fishing nets—they allow important customer feedback to escape. PeopleMetrics’ Closed-Loop Customer Engagement solution retains and distributes all customer feedback, and delivers both aggregate trends and individual responses, maximizing customer feedback investments.