How to Close the Loop in Voice of the Customer (VoC) Programs (For Real)

March 15, 2023

Caitlin Woods

Category: Customer Adoption, Customer Experience, Customer Retention, Customer Success as a Service, Customer Success Strategy, Digital Customer Success, Monetizing Customer Success, Voice of the Team

Voice of the Customer (VoC) programs are extremely valuable for collecting customer feedback and deeper insights into the health of your customer relationships. A good VoC program is comprehensive and involves gathering feedback from many different channels. The best VoC programs not only collect and analyze customer data and feedback from a variety of sources, they also close the customer feedback loop in a way that elevates the customer experience. Unfortunately, we’ve started using the term “close the loop” in VoC so often that we lose sight of the true meaning. What does closing the loop really mean, and how do we ensure we’re doing it the right way?

We owe it to our customers to close the loop! A great customer feedback strategy demonstrates this within our organization and directly with our customers. This means following up with your customers and thanking them for taking valuable time out of their day to share their feedback and what actions the business is taking because of it. It also means gathering a cross-functional team from across the business, sharing intelligence with other departments, and taking action on what you have learned to make your systems, operations, and experience better. In the best-case scenarios, executive leadership is driving your VoC program from the top down, encouraging and paving the way for communication between departments. Meaningfully closing the customer feedback loops is critical to the success of a VoC program.

How does closing the loop make Customer Success more effective?

Customer Success is ideally situated to captain Voice of the Customer the cross-functional connector. We can collect data directly from our customers at key points in their customer journey using interviews,  surveys, regular interactions, and engagement on social media. Customer Success Operations can then compile all this juicy intelligence, organize it, analyze it, and use it to help leaders across the company make better decisions. Closing the loop is the final step of this whole process, creating a system of continuous improvement for the entire business.

A VoC strategy that reinforces this system through closed-loop feedback dramatically improves customer retention rates and NPS scores. By closing the loop and following through on VoC intelligence, companies can decrease churn by a minimum of 2.3% each year. Not effectively following through on customer feedback has negative repercussions and can increase customer churn rates by at least 2.1% every year. And closing the loop after an NPS customer survey generates three times the number of promoters in your following survey.

What does a closed loop look like?

Let’s talk about closing the loop, it can be easy when you are regularly monitoring your customer feedback. As an example, your Voice of Customer team notices a lot of negative survey responses are coming in from customers who are currently in an Adoption Journey Phase. They cross-reference the survey responses with support tickets and notice that a particular bug has an increase in customer feedback related to the same product bug issue. They also see questions popping up on community pages surrounding the feature.

CS Ops notifies Product that the bug in question is causing significant disruption, and Product prioritizes the fix. As soon as they do, CS Ops is notified so they can email the affected customers to let them know about the resolution. They take the opportunity to thank the affected customers for their feedback and offer a direct line of communication if they run into the issue again. Internally, the right teams were notified of the problem and the solution. Externally, the customers were notified of the resolution.

The best strategies for closing the loop effectively

Be the captain of communication

Yes, Customer Success is ideally situated to take action and be the captain of communication about feedback a customer has shared, but we are not always the first thought for managing a VoC program. To ensure that every department is getting (and, in some cases, giving) the information they need to effectively close the loop, someone has to be in charge of connecting the dots and making decisions. Customer Success can be an advocate for VoC and take ownership of developing the internal processes the business needs to respond to VoC intelligence in a timely manner, answering questions like: What should we be doing about this? Who is going to follow up? Who is accountable for these changes? And, of course, how will the results ultimately be communicated to the customer?

Get executive sponsorship to drive VoC results

Without a doubt, it always helps to have support from the top. CS leaders who gain executive buy-in for their VoC initiatives will have an easier time getting the rest of the organization on board. And there are plenty of reasons for company leadership to take an active interest in VoC Programs and their results. They promote a customer-centric culture and inject greater value into and out of customer communication channels. An executive sponsor can encourage regular status updates on VoC progression and performance metrics so that every department can see the impact of their efforts.

Use every channel to follow through with customers

There are many ways to tell your customers that you are taking action on their behalf and are making changes to better their experience. You can use multiple methods such as email and direct one-on-one dialogue, blog posts, social media, in-app pop-ups, community posts, and newsletters. Don’t lean on a single channel (looking at you, email) to share the results of your progress. Leverage all avenues at your disposal to shout your message from the rooftops: We’re listening to you, and we care about your experience.