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What is a feedback loop and how does it work?

13 min read
What are positive and negative feedback loops, and how do you deal with them? Understand how to handle feedback loops effectively for better CX with our tips and examples


What is a feedback loop and how does it work?

A customer feedback loop is the process of getting feedback from customers and responding to that feedback. You can have positive or negative feedback loops, depending on the types of feedback you receive.

Closing the loop” is making sure you’ve addressed that feedback, resolving the issue of acknowledging the positive opinion that your customers have shared.

The steps taken during a feedback loop might be:

  1. You request feedback, or your customer provides unsolicited feedback
  2. You gather as much information about that feedback as you can through secondary questions on your surveys, or through contact with the customer themselves
  3. You analyze the feedback to see if it mentions a one-time or ongoing positive or negative incident, and what may have caused it
  4. You determine how to respond, both to the customer and internally to repeat the positive event or avoid repeating the negative experience – and if you can automate responses to simple issues or queries then even better because then you can focus on priority cases
  5. You improve your customer experience in light of the feedback received through internal action
  6. You notify your customers and employees of your planned or executed actions as a result of that feedback

Why are feedback loops important?

Your customers are the best source of feedback on your products and services. They’re the ones that are going to be using them, meaning their feedback is critical for making your offering the best it can be.

The ideal customer feedback loop takes customer feedback, turns their comments and insights into improvements for your products and services, and inspires new positive feedback as a result. Whether you’ve used NPS, CSAT, or other surveys, your feedback response should be more than just “Thanks for your feedback.”

Addressing customer feedback and actively making changes, as a result, is the best approach for making the most of your customer interactions. Though a customer feedback loop traditionally just involves responding to your customer, providing that feedback to your internal teams is also important to help improve your offering.

Ultimately, feedback should help you to design and improve on the customer experience you provide. The most important step is to create a customer-centric culture of action, where you not only gather feedback, but turn those insights into actionable steps for improvement.

Negative feedback loop examples

Negative feedback, while not ideal to receive, is excellent for informing you where your experience gaps lie. Customers will tell you where things need to improve and often will offer suggestions as to how – so negative feedback loops aren’t always a bad thing.

Here are some examples of negative feedback loops you might encounter:

Your customer service isn’t up to scratch

Problem: A customer has an issue with your product. They’ve tried to resolve the problem themselves using your online customer service portal, but they can’t find the answer to their question.

As a result, they’ve tried calling your customer service line, but the wait times to speak to an agent were very long. Though their problem was resolved, it took too much time and was a lot of effort to find a resolution. On their CSAT survey, they stated they weren’t satisfied for this reason.

The feedback loop: First of all, thank the customer for their feedback, and ensure it’s tailored to their message (e.g. “We’re sorry to hear about your experience today” rather than “Thanks for your feedback!”).

Steps you could then take include:

  • Clarifying if this is a one-time problem during a peak season, or if long wait times and issues finding information is an ongoing issue by evaluating your feedback trends
  • Making a compensatory offer for their trouble, such as a discount for another purchase
  • Notifying your customer service staff of this potential issue
  • Updating your online customer service hub to flag that there is a resolution to this particular issue
  • Adding in a new customer service channel, such as a chatbot, to help reduce the load on your customer service telephone lines
  • Notifying this customer in particular, but also your other customers, to let them know that you’ve received negative feedback about this particular issue and that you’ve changed your customer service policies as a result

Your product has a frequently-found fault or bug

Problem: You receive multiple complaints about a particular product fault that you were not aware of during its production or initial testing. This feedback is received through multiple channels.

The feedback loop: Again, thank your customers for their feedback, and notify them that it is an issue you are working on resolving.

Steps you could then take include:

  • Making a compensatory offer for their trouble, such as a discount
  • Creating a specific customer service page with solutions for this particular issue
  • Notifying your product developers of the issue and creating solutions
  • Notifying your customer base that this problem has been resolved and that you welcome further feedback from them, as it helps you to provide a better service

Your returns process is too complicated

Problem: Your customer has decided a product isn’t what they’re looking for and wishes to return their purchase. However, your returns process is complicated – you’re only able to process a return via the telephone, and the process can take days to refund the money they’ve spent. Your customer complains to you on your customer service line.

The feedback loop: Thank your customer for their feedback and notify them that it is an issue you are working on resolving.

Steps you could then take include:

  • Identifying if this is a one-time issue, or a common issue among your customers by using text analysis
  • Making a compensatory offer for their trouble, such as a discount
  • Contacting the customer for further details on what improvements they would like to see made
  • Identifying how to streamline your customer journey and remove pain points by sharing your insights with your teams
  • Evaluating your suppliers and the processes you currently use for returns
  • Making amends to your process
  • Notifying your customer(s) that your process has been changed

Customers can’t find what they’re looking for on your site

Problem: You can see that customers frequently depart from your product listing pages without making a purchase. Conversationally, your customers have noted to your customer service team that they find it hard to find what they’re looking for with your search function.

The feedback loop: As always, thank your customer for their feedback and assure them you’re working on a solution.

Steps you could then take include:

  • Identifying if this is a one-time issue, or a common issue among your customers by using text analysis and speaking to your customer service teams for frontline feedback
  • Evaluating your customer journey and see if your website is working effectively for your customers’ needs
  • Identifying how you could further develop your website search functions or comparison tools on your site
  • Making adjustments to your customer journey and UX
  • Notifying your customers that your search process and product comparison is easier than ever

Positive feedback loop examples

Positive feedback isn’t just a nice bonus – it can help you to recreate great customer experiences, or affirm that your customer journey is working as planned or even more effectively.

Your customer service was really helpful

Event: Your customer has contacted a customer service representative and had a really great experience. They’ve left positive feedback on a survey that you’ve delivered them after the customer service interaction has ended.

The feedback loop: Thank your customer for their feedback and let them know that you will pass their positive feedback on to that specific customer service agent (if possible).

Steps you could then take include:

  • Identifying if this is a feature of all your customer service agents, or if this specific agent is particularly helpful
  • Contacting the customer service representative and let them know that they have performed well
  • Initiate a workshop or tutorial to help other customer service agents learn from this good example
  • Creating an internal rewards scheme for positive feedback for customer service
  • Highlighting your customer service agents to your customers through social media stories and website case studies on your corporate culture

Your products resolve a key customer issue

Event: You receive positive feedback from multiple customers about your product, specifically stating that it resolves a key customer issue.

The feedback loop: Thank your customers for their feedback.

Steps you could then take include:

  • Asking these customers to make suggestions for further useful additions to your product range
  • Using these customers as part of a research panel for future products
  • Notifying your product developers of the feedback and encouraging further developments of this kind
  • Notifying your customer base that you’ve received positive feedback, and that you’d like to receive more constructive feedback on issues they think you could resolve

Your customer loves your service

Event: A customer goes out of their way to thank you for your great customer service via a complimentary email.

The feedback loop: Thank your customer for their feedback.

Steps you could then take include:

  • Asking this customer to promote you via their connections, such as on social media channels
  • Asking this customer if they’d be willing to provide a testimonial to your service
  • Notifying your customer service team of the feedback and encouraging further customer service examples like this
  • Highlighting this positive feedback via a testimonial or a positive rating score on your site

Feedback loop best practice

Acknowledge your customers’ efforts

Providing feedback takes time out of your customers’ day, so make sure you acknowledge this effort. This will help encourage your customers to keep providing feedback in the future.

Thank your customers and let them know they’ve been heard – and if you implement any changes as a result of their feedback, let them know. This will help show your audience that their efforts to provide feedback have been worth it.

Automate actions from feedback where possible

Simple feedback requests and responses should be automated to free up your customer service team’s time to address the bigger problems. Creating experience workflows can help to determine what needs an automated response, and what requires a more human touch.

Choose the right channels

Depending on the feedback you’ve received, you might want to reach out to your customers across different channels.

For example, a long-standing customer providing negative feedback (such as a complaint about your service) might need a call or an email to resolve well, rather than a generic “Thanks for your feedback!” message.

Take feedback on board

Though getting feedback is great, the purpose of gathering customer feedback is to ultimately improve your products and services. Make sure your team is able to access feedback insights and clearly understand the next steps to take to implement helpful changes.

Adding feedback loops into your experience design

Feedback loops are important for evolving your products and services and providing a great customer experience. Connecting all your feedback and analyzing it to improve your overall CX is vital – which is why having a platform that can streamline the process is important.

We take an outside-in approach that puts your customers at the heart of your experience design process. Using DesignXM™, we can enhance your current feedback loops and help you gather all the data you need to make your customer experience stand out.

eBook: Learn about the five fundamentals of successful experience design