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How to close the feedback loop on social media

8 min read
Social media is the mouthpiece for the world’s consumers and has a powerful influence on brand reputation. Here’s how to harness the power of social – even when things aren’t going well.

Closing the loop: why it matters

At Qualtrics, we talk a lot about closed-loop feedback, closing the feedback loop, or closing the loop with customers. All these terms describe the act of following up on feedback to the fullest possible extent, by reaching out to an individual customer to resolve an experience that fell short of their expectations.

Rather than simply collecting feedback and using it internally, a business that’s committed to closing the feedback loop will routinely make contact with respondents who give negative feedback, using these moments as an opportunity to turn relationships around and change negative experiences into strongly positive ones.

Business responding to feedback can have transformative results. According to Harvard Business Review, businesses responding to customer reviews in the hospitality sector actually saw an uptick in their review scores in response to the practice.

Meanwhile, 45% of consumers told ReviewTrackers they’d be more likely to do business with a company that responded to negative reviews

Closing the loop on social media

It’s only been with us since the mid 2000s, but social media has revolutionised communication, and for many of us it’s the go-to source for news, advice and opinion. According to research from Pew, in the US alone, 69% of adults say they use social media, up from 5% in 2005.

As social media has grown into a mainstream channel, it has developed multiple roles in the brand-consumer relationship. Businesses use it to promote products, reward loyal followers with discounts and promotions and strengthen their brands with content. Meanwhile, consumers understand social media as a direct and publicly visible platform for sending complaints, requests and feedback to businesses.

In fact, a large proportion of us actively prefer social media to other customer service channels. SocialMediaToday reports that 1 in 3 of social media users prefer social customer care to telephone or email. Meanwhile, nearly 70% of us have used social media to address a customer service issue at least once.

Timing is everything

In addition to being 100% public, social media is a 24-hour channel where the exchange of information is continual and topics of discussion evolve at high speed. Being able to close the loop on social media at short notice and resolve issues promptly is highly valuable. This is because a slow reply can allow time for an issue to escalates and to be amplified to a wider audience through retweets, reposts, comments and hashtag virality.

How quick do you need to be? 32% of consumers expect a brand to respond within 30 minutes, and 42% expect it within 60 minutes, according to The Social Habit researcher Jay Baer. Oh, and 57% of them expect the exact same level of service at night and on the weekends.

The consequences of letting the grass grow under your feet are similarly startling. Spout Social recently reported that churn increases by up to 15% for businesses who fail to respond on social media.

The transparency effect

What happens on social media happens in a public arena. Anyone with an internet connection can run a search on your business and see the conversations you or your representatives have had with consumers, and draw inferences about your company. As Liz Greene of The Digital Marketing Institute illustrates in her blog, poorly-handled exchanges can be screencapped and republished, causing severe damage to your brand and putting off current and potential future customers alike.

Because of this absolute visibility, social media is one of the places closing the loop matters most, particularly when a customer has asked a direct question or expressed a negative opinion about their experience. Customers have well-developed expectations about how brands should behave on social and what good social customer service looks like.

How to close the loop on social channels

So, we recognise the importance of having a visible, timely and proactive presence on social media. But how to do it? And what kind of tools and techniques are available to make it as efficient as possible for a large business with a lot of feedback to process?

1. Collect feedback

It sounds obvious, but the first step is to lay strong foundations with a setup that will collect a sample of customer feedback that’s as broad as possible. You also need to be able to navigate and process that large volume of customer data quickly and nimbly, surfacing an individual tweet or comment as quickly as possible so you can get to work on closing the loop.Being able to aggregate your social listening data on a single experience management platform, along with other input from different parts of the customer journey, gives you a better overview of what’s happening for your customer and allows you to work more quickly and efficiently too.

2. Speed up decision-making with rules and protocols

In a perfect world, you would respond to every comment and every mention the moment you become aware of it. But however efficient your organisation, your resources will always be limited. You’ll need to prioritise where to focus your responses.

Fortunately, this kind of decision-making can be automated and scaled up using a closed-loop ticket system, as offered by Qualtrics Experience Management (XM) Platform. In this setup, pre-defined criteria are used to sort issues in priority order. If a particular case meets those criteria, a ticket is automatically raised and the issue can be fast-tracked for a prompt response. You can also integrate it with your case management system, so that the onward journey can be monitored and a full resolution is ensured.

3. Route cases to the right people

Human connections are a big part of good customer service, and sometimes connecting the right agent to the right customer is the key to a successful resolution. That could mean putting the case through to the same agent who has previously dealt with the customer and has an existing relationship with them, or escalating a more complex case to a senior member of your team with the right level of experience to handle it.

Again, this can be automated using a platform like Qualtrics Customer Experience Management, which integrates with your case management system and can connect the dots of your customer’s journey across multiple platforms – including third-party ones via API – so they never have to start again from the beginning and explain the issue to someone new.

4. Respond on their social platform of choice

Whether your customer fed back on Facebook, shared their opinion on Google Reviews, or left a rating on TripAdvisor, you need to be able to respond to them on that same platform, so they get a consistent experience and your response is visibly coordinated with their original comment.

This doesn’t have to mean juggling accounts and logins on multiple platforms, however. With integrated software like Qualtrics Reputation Management, your customer’s review is automatically pulled in from the third-party platform via API, and you can respond straight from your Qualtrics dashboard.

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