Stop Flying Blind: Why Closed Feedback Loops Matter More Than Ever
Marketers need to see the customer journey clearly to do their jobs effectively, but for many, the view of the customer’s path is partly cloudy at best. No one likes flying blind. When good pilots fly through heavy weather, they rely on their flight instruments and keep an eye on key metrics like altitude, airspeed, etc., to get to their destination and land safely.
For marketing, the instrument panel is a dashboard with key metrics that enable marketers to make the right decisions to improve the customer experience. And right now, visibility is poor for many marketers because the ongoing pandemic has caused a massive number of changes in a short time, transforming marketplaces, customer habits, and preferred communication channels.
These changes have a lot of marketers feeling like they’re flying blind, but you don’t have to stay lost in the fog. Instead, you can use automated surveys to take your customers’ pulse, establish a solid baseline, and execute a closed-loop feedback strategy to continuously improve. This approach will give you the key metrics you need to consistently deliver a great customer experience in three steps.
Step 1: Always Reach Out After a Purchase
Many companies are already doing this, with Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys being a popular choice to keep tabs on customer sentiment. That’s smart because, good or bad, you need to hear what the customer thought of their experience. Asking how likely they would be to recommend your product or service to a friend or colleague gives you actionable data — and a chance to follow up after you secure consent for an ongoing conversation.
One attractive feature about NPS surveys is that they’re easy for marketers to automate, and they’re simple enough to engage customers who might not have time to complete a more complicated survey. AI makes it possible to personalize follow-up questions based on a customer’s responses and get the information you’ll need to identify and address problems.
Step 2: Follow Up Within 72 Hours
If you’re going to ask for customer feedback, it’s absolutely critical to follow up in a timely way. People rely on reviews now more than ever, and as every marketer who’s collected feedback knows, people at the extremes — extremely happy or extremely upset — are the ones who jump at the chance to answer a survey. When you respond quickly, unhappy customers are less likely to take to social media and more likely to give you a chance to make things right.
So choose a platform and digital add-on that allows your company to respond quickly and learn more about what went wrong or what went right. That way, you can stay ahead of any emerging issues that are causing discontent in your customer base and find out what happy customers love about the product or service, so you can make sure they stay happy. Providing an option for one-on-one dialog is also a good idea — you want customers to come out of each feedback scenario feeling heard.
Step 3: Define a Check-In Cadence and Keep an Eye on Your Best Customers
Gartner predicts that outbound customer engagement interactions will outnumber inbound encounters by 2025. Companies need to get proactive about the entire customer journey, not just at the point of purchase, and surveys can help you establish where you stand with customers at key junctures. Surveys can also help you understand who your best customers are and analyze every step of their journey.
For example, if you use NPS scores, you can analyze each category (promoters, neutral, detractors) and see where the customers who have the greatest potential for lifetime value land. Are you seeing more of your best customers migrating to the “promoter” category? If so, that’s great! If they’re moving toward the “detractor” list, that’s a problem that you need to address ASAP.
Closing the Feedback Loop
Surveys help you understand the customer’s perspective today, and follow-ups give you insights you can use to elevate the customer experience in the future. With the right platform and digital messaging capabilities, it’s a relatively simple process. But keep in mind that you’ll need to capture and manage customer consent for an ongoing conversation, so select a solution that can handle this important aspect of your customer communication strategy.
The level of acceptance of AI in follow-up conversations is extremely high. People appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback, and with the right strategy, you can design questions that generate high response rates, meet customers where they are (phone, text, email, etc.), and make it simple for customers to give you the information you need to consistently deliver a great customer experience.
Surveys that close the feedback loop remove the fog, giving you clearer visibility into the customer journey. That’s always important, but with so many changes due to the pandemic, marketers are essentially “building the plane while flying it,” which makes accurate instrumentation even more critical. With surveys that create closed-loop feedback, you’ll have happier customers — and happier landings.
Tara Kelly is the President, CEO and founder of SPLICE Software.