Why You Need a Closed Loop Process for Customer Experience (CX) Surveys

June 8, 2017

When it comes to market research and customer experience (CX) surveys, it's not how much data you can collect but what's done with the data which adds value to your business and organization. Don't forget, it's all about the "Customer" in your "Customer Experience" survey efforts, not the data.


The value and impact of market research lies in the action taken, not the results. Results only matter if the business can take action and make specific improvements based from the CX market research.


Market research and reports are not meant to sit on a shelf. Unfortunately, far too many reports gather dust only to be opened again when it comes time to conduct a Wave II, Wave III, or Wave IX of a longitudinal research project.


Sad isn't it?


As a market researcher who maybe spent 40 or 80+ hours on the report which fills a binder nicely (might I add), it's sad to think that it will just sit there. On a shelf. For the next 2 to 3 years.


However, I blame this more on the market research firm than the client. As a market research company, it's our job to maximize value and create digestible action items from the data.


Market research value is not measured by the number of pages in the report but rather the ways it makes an impact on improving the customer experience, how it impacts the bottom-line, and ways it saves a business money through more efficient operations.



Pay for action, not data.



Where the real estate industry uses the slogan: Location. Location. Location.


Customer experience could use: Action. Action. Action.


A chart or graph does not create action. A summary of a key finding does not create urgency.



For example, which of these CX survey findings is more actionable?


Scenario 1: A CX market research firm collects 825 completed surveys from customers. Approximately 75% of customers want the "ease of ordering products" improved.


Key finding right? Actionable though? Not without some heavy and additional context.


Scenario 2: A CX market research firm identifies 23 customers who would like to place an order but they've had several issues logging into the sales portal over the past 30 days. The CX firm passes these survey contacts to the customer support department. The customer support department logs these issues with IT and collects the order by phone resulting in 23 additional orders placed that day totaling a lift of $82,500 in sales. Then the following week the sales team sends an email out to customers explaining the fixes and what changes to expect in the coming weeks on the portal.


Key finding? Yes, the data shows a theme of login issues with customers.


Actionable? You bet. The CX research not only uncovered issues with the portal but was able to capture 23 additional sales orders by using the survey as a reach-out and trigger to invoke immediate follow-up. It also let all customers know that a prior issues has been addressed and fixed.



Outcome of an in-actionable market research report.




What is a Closed Loop Survey Process?

When someone talks about a closed loop survey process as part of VoC or CX, they mean the process of following up, communicating, or exchanging information with customers after the survey is completed. Far too often are surveys sent and no communication happens afterwards.


What you are saying to a customer is, "You were willing to take 5 minutes to respond to our survey but we do not have the time to share any of the results or changes we'll make based on your feedback."


Doesn't really resonate as a great customer experience right?


A closed loop survey process ensures a Step 2 takes place after Step 1 (completing the survey) is over. 


Let's dive in...




What are the Types of Closed Loop Survey Processes?

There are several variations of a closed loop survey process as taught by MaritzCX University.


Each focus on a different outcome. Each are equally as valuable as the next. All for different reasons.


See below.



Type 1: Tactical Closed Loops

This is the example I shared earlier. It's hard to argue that tactical 1-on-1 follow-ups do not create immediate value. At the same time, these types of tactical follow-up require a lot of organization and time. From managing the cases to managing follow-ups (often multiple) ones, it can be a time sucker.


The example here is the customer support team member(s) follow-up 1-on-1 with each customer who reported an issue or problem with an order. The impact is immediate resolution and a jump in incremental sales.



Type 2: Action Planning Closed Loops

The idea behind the action planning closed loop system is to develop a guide of best practices derived from the survey analysis and themes. The example here would be the customer service management team creating an action plan of 3 or 4 items to address with the customer service team at training meetings on a monthly basis.


The action plan might include some tips about how to handle angry customers, how to process a sales order more smoothly, or how to script a close to a phone call. All of these were uncovered as part of the CX market research as improvement areas. By enacting this action plan, it will address some of the key frustration points mentioned by customers.


It's the in-between on the tactical and strategic closed loop processes.



Type 3: Strategic Closed Loops

This is the closed loop survey process at the highest level. This could include monthly emails, quarterly newsletters, or blog posts taking about CX improvements made by your business.


Perhaps you share a few case studies or customer examples of how you used feedback to make improvements. Or how you took the CX survey data and made changes within your organization to improve the CX. 


Whatever the case may be, this strategic closed loop process highlights your successes as a customer-centric organization. It pins you as a thought-leader and one who wants to drive a better customer experience.




"The most successful companies do not view research as research. They view research as an integral part of operations, marketing, and day-to-day customer relationship management. Data is everywhere and it drives all decisions and actions."



Questions about the closed loop process in CX? We have answers.




Questions to Ask Yourself

Before you jump on the CX closed loop surveying train, let's take care of a few questions you might be asking yourself first. A closed loop survey is well-structured and laid out process which takes you from Step A to Step F (or Step A to Step Z if needed).



What are the metrics which will trigger your closed loop process?

This is the first step you'll want to determine after (or even before) your CX survey script is written. What metrics or questions will trigger an "event" with the event being the start of the closed loop process and opening of a customer follow-up case.



Option 1: NPS

Some of our clients use net promoter score (NPS). A specific filter is built into the survey so when a customer rates an organization as a 0 to 6 on the 0 to 10 scale of likelihood to recommend, the case is flagged and teams are notified.


Some sophisticated survey platforms actually spark emails to be sent to management teams, sales representatives, or other leaders so they can all view the responses and reasons for the low score. But be careful with this, you'll want a process in place before doing this.


More on that in a bit.


Too often the closed loop process focuses on the negative responses but don't forget about the positives.


Don't believe me? On your next poor customer experience, if you get a survey be honest and rate the experience as extremely poor. Explain why.


If the company is customer-centric you'll be sure to receive a phone call or email follow-up asking to discuss further or an effort to try and make the experience better for you.


However, when is the last time you rated something excellent and received that same follow-up call or email? It's almost unheard of right? Someone going out of their way to email you to talk to you more about how much you love their company.




A true customer-centric culture doesn't take happy and loyal customers for granted. They cement them as loyal fa