Closing the Loop: Why Follow-up is More Than a Passing Courtesy

By: Kate Zimmerman

June 8, 2015

Customer Engagement
customer experience
customer experience management

We’ve all received countless surveys in our inboxes. I’ll be the first to admit that my likeliness to even open it correlates directly to my workload; oftentimes it winds up in the trash.

However, once in a blue moon that survey email happens to come through during a five-minute lull between meetings and I jump into it. This happened last fall with my gym. I have been working out at my gym five times a week for three years now, so I have a lot of thoughts about my experience there. I had never thought to share that feedback until this survey came through. I filled it out, submitted it, and then promptly forgot about it.

That is, until I received a response a few weeks later. This wasn’t just a standard form response: this was a personalized response from my gym manager. She directly addressed a few of my complaints—I was floored and extremely happy! I have since taken the time to fill out every single survey my gym has sent me. That’s a win-win situation if you ask me!

Closing the loop after a survey and explaining how you are using the results is an extremely important part of your customer experience management program. Many customers these days are victims of ‘survey fatigue’—they receive many surveys and rarely see any incentive to fill it out. Some surveys do come with the opportunity to win money, but most customers don’t expect to actually win. Plus, it’s not economically feasible for your company to include monetary incentive for what is already a very expensive part of your marketing budget.

Following up via email, phone call, or social media goes a long way when it comes to personalizing an experience and showing that you care. First, and most importantly, follow-ups show your customers that the time they took to complete the survey was well spent, and that their responses will actually make a difference. Second, they create a personality around your brand by putting people behind the name. And third, they are an avenue to additional brand exposure with an opportunity to direct your customer to a deal or more information.

A successful follow-up email can easily help create word-of-mouth, too. Recently Clarabridge’s CMO, Susan Ganeshan, received a follow-up email from United Airlines after she took a survey. She was so pleased with the email and the information it contained that she shared it with her friends and family, plus our entire marketing team.  This specific email focused on what United does with the results from their surveys, which includes analyzing the data and sharing it company-wide. It even specifies that certain employees have customer satisfaction metrics that tie into their compensation. Talk about knowing that your response matters!

If done correctly, closing the loop can be a very simple way to continue to improve your customer experience management and build your loyal customer base.

Kate Zimmerman is a Product Marketing Associate at Clarabridge. Kate focuses on building content that supports CX efforts, product marketing, analyst relations, and has become an industry expert in Customer Experience Management. Kate holds a B.A in Politics from the University of Virginia and can be found on Twitter at @kmzimm.