Closing the Customer Feedback Loop: Turn Insights into Action
“It’s not the score that matters; it’s what you do with it to make promoters that really counts.”
Fred Reichheld, Bain & Company
The quote pretty much sums up the whole purpose of adopting Net Promoter Score® – using the captured insights to close the feedback loop.
Customer feedback loop depicts the process of continuous enhancement based on the customers’ insights about the business they interact with. It is one of the most efficient ways to seek improvements in accordance with clients’ needs. Listening to what they have to say is indispensable since the sought answers lie at the core of customer sentiment.
An easy way to close the customer feedback loop is to ask open-ended questions and explain how you plan to act on the valuable information your clients share. This will confirm that you understand their pain points and will continue to strive to make their business successful. Also, you should let your customers know that the changes they’ve asked for have been implemented and the issues solved.
Only by showing commitment to take the received feedback seriously your business will be able to differentiate from competitors and will help you turn your Detractors into Promoters, Passives into engaged customers and Promoters into brand advocates.
Let’s go beyond generalities and analyze each NPS segment, outlining the best practices in dealing with them.
Promoters: show gratitude
Promoters are your most satisfied and loyal customers. But they aren’t just loyal to you – they advocate for you. You probably already know them by name and have a personal relationship. They’ve likely already provided testimonials, acted as references, written an online review, or talked up your brand at industry trade shows.
While Promoters are certainly your ideal customer segment, most businesses make the mistake of taking them for granted. They make little or no efforts to appreciate their most profitable customer segment. In doing so, they miss out on capturing valuable insights on what makes their product tick and how they can leverage it for future growth.
But the truth is that nurturing your Promoters and showing gratitude for their feedback can go a long way in strengthening future relationships and improving top-line growth.
Here’s how you can close the feedback loop with Promoters:
- Give rewards: Send them personalized “thank you” notes, brand merchandise or a promotional badge that they can share on social media. The idea is to make them feel good about the brand and show them that they are valued.
- Ask for referrals: As Promoters would be more than happy to recommend your brand to their friends, you can ask them to enroll for your referral campaign. To sweeten the deal, you can even offer them free credits for every successful referral.
- Provide personalized upgrades: Since Promoters are less price sensitive, they are the perfect segment for upselling or cross-selling your products or services. Instead of randomly suggesting an upgrade, you can track their usage history to identify the upgrades that they would be more interested in and tell them the potential cost-benefits of enrolling.
By closing the loop with Promoters, in particular, you validate and reinforce their positive feelings about your brand and prove their feedback is crucial to your success.
Passives: engage before they churn
The two extreme ends of the NPS range, Promoters, and Detractors, seem fairly straightforward to deal with.
Passives fall into a special customer segment. These customers are satisfied but have no enthusiasm for your product. They don’t love your product, but they don’t hate it either. This makes them particularly vulnerable to competition. Often, they recognize a need for your type of product but are not convinced your business has the best offering. It’s almost as if they’re waiting for something good or bad to happen before they can make a final choice. This makes for an excellent opportunity to surprise and delight them.
But since Passives usually don’t provide open-ended feedback, it becomes difficult to close the loop with them. For instance, according to Zendesk’s 2014 study [PDF], only 37% of Passives shared some form of feedback, as compared to 50% Detractors and 55% Promoters.
While it might seem that Passives are less likely to damage your brand, the truth is that Detractors and Passives churn almost similarly. While Detractors take decisive action, Passives wait for a good competitive opportunity to make the switch. They might hold on to the brand for a longer time, but if they are ignored, it’s almost certain that they would churn.
To close the feedback loop with Passives, here’s what you should do:
- Offer them discounts or upgrades: Passives can be re-engaged by providing zero-risk upgrades or exclusive discounts on long-term subscriptions. The idea is to make them decisive by reducing the activation barrier.
- Send them product walk-through guides: It’s possible that Passives don’t take the time to engage with your product because of a misleading first impression. They were dissatisfied with your product and never came back to look at your incremental updates. You can re-engage them by sending regular product update newsletters.
Detractors: delight them
There’s little that’s more discouraging than accessing your Net Promoter Score platform to discover that your NPS score is not as expected.
Dealing with unhappy customers is an unpleasant part of any job, but one that has never been more necessary. Changing a customer’s mind after the damage has been done is definitely a challenge. When following up with your Detractors, be transparent about where you’ve gone wrong in the past and how you plan to fix it.
According to Lee Resources, 70% of customers would do business with you again, if a complaint is resolved in their favor. The purpose of closing the feedback loop with Detractors is to build trust with customers and show them that you care.
Most businesses make the mistake of seeing Detractors as customers who cannot be re-engaged, as they despise the overall product experience. But that’s simply not true.
In fact, the customers who discontinue free trials or provide negative feedback are future Promoters who want your solution to work for them. But, for some reason or another, it isn’t delivering favorable outcomes.
Perhaps, the best way to re-engage them is to send a personalized email, asking them about the issues they are facing and how you can resolve them.
You can also ask open-ended questions, like the below, to gain vital insights into customer pain points:
- What are you trying to do with our product, but aren’t able to get it done?
- Could you outline the ideal solution that would work for you?
- If you had a magic wand, what’s the first thing that you would improve in our product?
You can even call them up and hear them out, as according to Genesys Global Survey [PDF], the most requested improvement from customers was “better human service”. The whole idea is to improve the perception of your brand by proactively inquiring on their issues and finding a solution that would work for them.
Here’s how you can follow-up on the email and outline a solution to their problem:
- Share a guide, in case you already have the feature they’re requesting.
- Extend their free trial and give access to premium features.
- Suggest a third-party service that would work for them (even if it lies outside your product boundary).
By proactively finding solutions to clients’ problems and improving their experience, you will turn Detractors into Promoters, who would feel good about being cared for.
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Non-respondents: reach out
While most businesses create a framework to close the feedback loop for the above three segments – Promoters, Passives, and Detractors, they completely overlook their largest customer segment: non-respondents.
Given the fact that the NPS response rate is, on average 20-40%, it’s fairly certain that every business would have at least 60% of non-respondents. The surprising insight, based on a case-study, is that non-respondents churn the most, even more than Passives or Detractors.
In fact, businesses have better chances of re-engaging with a Detractor than convincing a non-respondent. Typically, if neglected, a chunk of non-respondents would churn within the next 6 month period.
Basically, the only way to re-engage non-respondents is to treat them the same way as you would treat Detractors and Passives, trying to break the ice. While non-respondents don’t affect your NPS score, they can certainly have a detrimental impact on your future growth and profitability.
Timing is everything
Managing the gap between customer expectations and the provided solutions requires immediacy. Once you’ve told your customers you plan to reach out, it’s compulsory that they hear from you. It’s important to choose the right time for NPS surveys. Respond to customers in less than 24 hours after the NPS campaign has been launched, otherwise, the likelihood of holding a meaningful follow-up conversation is zero. Plan to block out some time each day to review and respond to feedback immediately.
Closing the loop with a prompt response would also require the availability of enough staff able to deal with the received customer feedback. In this regard, you might want to throttle the number of daily surveys, so you could effectively process the results. Thus, instead of surveying the whole customer base at a time, you should divide it into smaller groups. Send your surveys on a daily basis over a period of up to 3 or 6 months, depending on the number of respondents. Remember, once asking for honest feedback be prepared to act on it accordingly.
Mind the gap
The goal is to capture critical customer feedback and leverage the received data to the benefit of the company. Many businesses use the collected insights to adjust their product roadmap, prevent churn, encourage referrals, build targeted campaigns, etc.
Closing the customer feedback loop is one of the easiest ways to reinforce a positive experience or rectify a negative one. Your clients want to know that their time and opinions are valued. There is nothing more frustrating than giving constructive criticism and never receiving a follow-up.
Understanding and responding to customer sentiment is an ongoing process, thus make sure to constantly keep up with your consumer’s needs and fuel their loyalty.
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