How to Provide Closed-Loop Feedback With Employees and Customers

Bowl of colourful loops top view

In this article, Charlie Mitchell defines closed-loop feedback, before showing how it can work in the contact centre to improve employee and customer experience.

What Is Closed-Loop Feedback?

Closed-loop feedback consists of gathering feedback, taking action and following up. Through this process, employees and customers get the sense that their voice is being heard and is valued by the organization.

Those who provide feedback are not left to wonder what happened to their feetheir. Instead, the loop is closed.

However, many contact centres will also categorize feedback after it’s gathered. This helps to provide insights into how widespread the issue is.

With this being the case, the closed feedback loop, which is generally recommended for contact centres, looks something like this:

An image showing closed loop feedback

Unfortunately, it’s true that most contact centres will not close the loop with customers at all. This is not recommended, as it subconsciously signals to the customer that their feedback is not important. After all, if you value someone, you respond to them.

So, let’s take a practical look at how to recreate the closed-loop process for both employees and customers in the contact centre.

Closed-Loop Feedback With Customers

Step 1 – Gathering Customer Feedback

The first step in gathering feedback is to consider: what are you trying to achieve?

It’s easy to immediately consider: what are we going to ask?

Yet, if the contact centre can first determine what they want to discover, it becomes much simpler to develop the right questions.

Not only that but it also becomes easier to decide how feedback will be collected – whether that’s through surveys, customer interviews or portals.

Providing a range of these feedback options is often the best way to open up a pot of golden responses, according to Sarah Morgan, Founder of Luceat Consulting.

“Offering opportunities to give written, verbal or even visual feedback – which can be done with emoji icons – plays to each customer preference,” says Sarah.

“This allows them to feedback in a way that feels natural to them.”

If the contact centre can first determine what they want to discover, it becomes much simpler to develop the right questions.

So, guard against hedging all bets towards one method of gathering feedback. Review each of the following feedback mechanisms – as well as others – and determine which might align best with your overall goal.

  • Asking advisors to gather feedback during customer interactions
  • Listening to escalated calls
  • Sending a request for a review on a third-party website (i.e. Trustpilot)

While the last “mechanism” may seem a little risky, Sarah – when working for Good Energy – oversaw the company’s Trustpilot score grow from two to four and a half stars by doing so.

“Sending out a request for a Trustpilot review as soon as the phone went down worked really well because the reviews that were left always included the customer’s account number,” says Sarah.

“We could then track back through the customer’s history and build themes of which contact reasons were being handled well and which were leading to frustration. We could also track the trends, in terms of was there a demographic difference too.”

This final point leads us straight into the next stage of the loop: categorization…

Discover many more means of collecting customer feedback in our article: 25 Good Customer Feedback Examples

Step 2 – Categorizing Customer Feedback

Categorizing feedback often starts by analysing patterns in customer responses, pinpointing common problems and getting to grips with the extent of the issue.

“Consider what’s driving the need to give feedback,” Sarah suggests. “Then, think about the underlying themes that go beyond the words of one customer.”

“Sometimes organizations can fall into the trap of defending an individual instance. Instead, consider the underlying reasons and really think about what went wrong in the customer experience.”

A headshot of Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan

At this point, consider how common the problem is for customers. This is where the categorization comes to the fore.

Depending on the goal of the feedback, it can be categorized by the products/services that the customer uses, the disposition code of their most recent contact or the stage of the journey that the customer is at.

When a significant problem is uncovered, the contact centre can make moves to put it right to reduce future complaints and contact volumes…

Step 3 – Acting and Following Up on the Customer Feedback

The actions that are taken to resolve common problems will, of course, very much depend on the nature of the issue.

But, as and when a positive change is made, shout it from the rooftops.

Sharing the positive action is important, as that’s what is going to turn an unhappy customer who has vented round. That is what’s going to keep their business.

“If the customer has voluntarily shared their insights, then yes, companies should be following up,” says Teresa Gandy, Founder of ClarityCX.

“But, equally, it’s easy to ask the customer whether they’d like a follow-up. Sometimes they might just want a bit of a rant. Just ask them, it’s that simple.”

A headshot of Theresa Gandy

Teresa Gandy

To further simplify this process, if a business has its own feedback portal, build in a tick box where the customer can request a follow-up. This will save time and keep customers happy.

Fail to do any of this and feedback will, over time, be very difficult to come across because why will customers bother to tell you when they heard nothing last time?

So, to keep the momentum of the “loop” going and to get back to step one of gathering new feedback – with a loyal base of talkative customers – following up is key.

Closed-Loop Feedback With Employees

Step 1 – Gathering Employee Feedback

Too often advisors are only asked for feedback once a year, in a long annualized survey. Yes, this can bring some value, but a whole lot can change in a year.

“It’s much better practice to ask smaller things, much more regularly, but very specific things that can be actioned. After all, nothing is more demoralizing than giving feedback and seeing no change,” says Teresa Gandy.

Examples of specific questions that could work well include:

  • Do you feel as though you have adequate training for your job?
  • Do you feel like your skills are being adequately used?
  • Do you understand the recent changes to the quality scorecard?

Just make sure it’s not only the loudest voices in the room who can have their say.

Open advisor forums can also work well to immediately dive into the issues that are playing on the team’s mind.

Just make sure it’s not only the loudest voices in the room who can have their say.

Other tried-and-tested ways of gathering employee feedback, as recommended by Sarah, include:

  • Anonymous suggestion boxes with HR support
  • Skip-level meetings to give everyone a voice
  • Stay and exit interviews
  • Ratings and reviews on recruiter websites

Find more quick tips for gathering contact centre feedback in our article: 14 Tips for Collecting Advisor Feedback

Step 2 – Categorizing Employee Feedback

Grouping employee feedback is the key to extracting its value, especially when the contact centre collects ideas through anonymous surveys.

With all of this information, trend spotting through categorization is the fundamental method for spotting major employee issues.

How is this done best? Again, it comes back to the objective of the feedback cycle.

For example, advisors could be grouped by the team that they’re in, the shift pattern they work or even the length of time that they’ve been with the company.

When these trends start to emerge, remember to keep an open mind.

By splitting feedback like this, trend spotting becomes much more powerful, as pain points that might have previously been hidden away can be deciphered more easily.

When these trends start to emerge, remember to keep an open mind.

“If you ask for feedback and your immediate response is defence, you’ll never get real insights again,” warns Sarah.

Keep this in mind before taking action and closing the loop…

Step 3 – Acting and Following Up on the Employee Feedback

Once an issue has been uncovered, talk it through with the wider team to find a solution that everyone is happy with. This makes the action feel like a collaborative effort, which will help to secure everyone’s buy-in.

Then, once the mutually agreed solution is in place, let the entire team know, so everyone understands that they’re being listened to and that their voice carries great significance.

To do this, an exercise such as “you said, we did” can be just the ticket. It will ensure people stand up and take notice of the changes that are being made for their benefit.

On a larger scale, this can also be done for following up on customer feedback. Social posts and website announcements will highlight that, as a business, you listen. This is something that most fail to do.

Uncover how employee feedback can be used to improve contact centre training programmes by reading our article: How to Get Better Quality Performance From Feedback, Training and Coaching

A Final Benefit of Having a Continuous Loop of Feedback

Many contact centres only start to put feedback systems in place when it’s too late and, usually, they’re only created to discover the extent of a problem that has been identified. More forward-thinking operations take up a stance of wanting to know all of the time because they can then identify problems at a very early stage. This is opposed to waiting until a point at which the situation is very hard to turn around.

Of course, a continuous, closed feedback loop will need to avoid the risk of spamming customers.

However, if contact centres can develop a good combination of formal and informal feedback mechanisms, before closing the feedback loop, they can strike gold, over and over again.

Unpack even more insights for developing an effective contact centre feedback strategy from within our articles:

Author: Charlie Mitchell

Published On: 14th Jul 2022 - Last modified: 8th May 2024
Read more about - Customer Service Strategy, , , , , , ,

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