This is most relevant in what we call “bottom-up NPS®” feedback systems, in which you solicit feedback from your own customers after an important interaction or as part of a relationship assessment.
Closing the loop begins with sharing the feedback from a customer— as soon after it is received as possible—directly with the employees most responsible for creating the customer’s experience. In many situations, this means sharing it with a sales or service representative and his or her supervisors. In other situations, it might mean sharing the feedback with an account team. Often, it also will mean sharing the feedback with product designers, engineers, pricing executives or others who create the policies, processes or product features that shape a customer’s experience with the company.
The next step in closing the loop—perhaps the most important—requires digging in to find the root causes of an individual customer’s problem, and, whenever possible, “fixing” the situation for that customer. This means you have to get back in touch with those customers whose feedback deserves follow-up so you can probe deeper. Your primary goal should be to fix their individual problems, but this follow-up can also help you identify and address more systemic issues, which can guide you in improving products, policies, services and processes so that every customer gets a better experience and problems don’t recur.
Note: Closing the loop isn’t only about addressing problems. It’s also an excellent way to find out what your company is doing right—what sorts of experiences are wowing customers and turning them into promoters—so you can do more of it.
Ultimately, what a company learns through “closing the loop” can help reorient the company’s fundamental strategy and priorities, focusing the entire organization on meeting customer needs and providing a superior customer experience.
Closed-loop feedback, learning, and action must involve everyone, from customer-facing employees through the most senior leaders:
- Closing the loop at the front line. At most NPS companies, front-line employees or managers contact every customer who reports a problem and try to resolve the issue. The process helps shape employees’ daily priorities and behaviors on the job. It also enables companies to spot patterns and determine which processes and policies they need to address at a higher level. Perhaps most important, it sends an essential signal to customers that their feedback was received and acted on, enhancing their trust in and relationship with the company.
- Closing the loop for midlevel managers. If functional leaders and other middle managers don’t get a steady flow of customer feedback, tight budgets and other constraints can lead them to concentrate on departmental goals at the expense of customers. So NPS companies ensure that they do receive direct feedback—on products, services, pricing and policies. By getting feedback in the customer’s own words (through open-ended verbatim responses to the initial survey) and by speaking directly with customers during follow-up calls, these managers get to hear the customers’ true voices, up close and personal. The combination of hard data and real verbatim comments help managers keep the customer experience and the customer’s voice in the foreground as they make their daily decisions.
- Closing the loop for senior executives. Leading NPS companies put senior executives and board members in direct touch with customers, front-line employees and the feedback from both groups. Some ask customers to attend executive-team and board meetings. Others ask top leaders to review customer feedback every week. Many ask senior leaders to participate in the follow-up calls, engaging directly with customers about their experiences and feedback for the company. By engaging senior leaders directly in the bottom-up closed-loop process, these companies help them stay closer to customers, become more aware of the realities of their interactions with the company, and gain a visceral and practical view of what it’s like to be on the front lines of the company.
Companies also close the loop in two other critical ways:
- They continuously circle back with customers to let them know about the actions the company is taking in response to the feedback the customer provided.
- They create communities of customers from whom they collect ongoing input and ideas for innovation. The LEGO Group, for instance, helps to support conventions and exhibits hosted by LEGO Users Groups. Executives say they benefit enormously from these face-to-face interactions with customers.