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Feedback loopsFor centuries, information about products and services was controlled by businesses.

However, after the internet changed the world, businesses now operate in an environment where that power has slowly shifted into the hands of the consumer.

Today’s connected shoppers have access to an unprecedented volume of information, which, in turn, has allowed them to take near full control of the customer experience. In a recent blog published by Salesforce, John Zissimos described this development as the ‘Age of the Customer’.

To sustain success, businesses are having to learn how to become much more customer-centric in their approach. And one of the best ways to ensure your business meets customer expectations is through harnessing the power of feedback loops.

What are feedback loops?

In business, a feedback loop is a system that is created to listen and learn from your customers. Your customers are the ones that pay for your products and services day in, day out – so what they think of your offering can potentially make or break your business.

By creating a systematic approach to collecting feedback, you give your customers a platform to tell you how well they think you’re doing. When used effectively, this will provide you with the opportunity to make sure you offer the best customer experience possible.

Using feedback loops for continuous improvements

You’ve probably heard the saying, “The competition will bite you if you keep running; but if you stand still, they’ll swallow you.” In the Age of the Customer, where service levels have become one of the main differentiators between you and your competitors, the sentiment fuelling this quote increases ten-fold.

When it comes to providing amazing customer service, even the smallest advantage can make a huge difference. For this reason, using customer feedback to continually improve your service levels can offer the edge you need in the fight to keep ahead of the competition.

How do you identify areas to improve?

New technologies and the growing number of service channels available to consumers has increased the complexities of delivering exceptional customer service. As such, the only way to gain the insights that will allow you to introduce continuous improvements is to create feedback loops for every customer contact point in the business.

If your business has a call centre, there’s a wide range of technologies that will allow you to access relevant customer service data. For instance, ContactWorld for Sales has a facility for implementing post-call surveys, so you can discover if there are any areas of your business’ over-the-phone service that are leaving your customers underwhelmed.

For businesses with brick and mortar stores, using a mystery shopper is an excellent technique for building a picture of the experiences your customers encounter every day. Meanwhile, reviews, testimonials, social media, community forums and focus groups are just a handful of the other feedback loops businesses can use to collect data to build service satisfaction.

Listen and learn from all your feedback loops

It’s highly likely that you already have a reasonable idea about the areas your business’ service offering could improve. This makes it important not to create feedback loops solely designed to collect information that confirms your existing beliefs or theories.

Focusing too heavily on data that supports your preconceived ideas will increase your chances of missing something critical you haven’t previously thought about. To make significant improvements, you must therefore study all the data you collect from feedback loops carefully, as this is the only way to fully understand every area where your customers think you can improve.

Final thoughts

New and emerging technologies have created customers that are better informed and connected than ever before. In crowded markets, this means service is now one of the main factors that determines whether customers continue using a business or switch to a competitor.

When it comes to listening and learning from your customers in order to provide better service, the advice presented here only scratches the surface of what creating feedback loops makes possible.

Download our whitepaper to find out more about feedback loops in customer service.

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About Nicola Brookes

Nicola is corporate communications director at NewVoiceMedia. She will mostly blog about customer service, industry news, events and company updates. Follow Nicola on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbrookespr

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