The customer feedback loop is one of the most effective ways to improve your product or service. It helps you gather meaningful opinions, engage your users and build your business on more than just random ideas.

But what exactly is it? And how do you go about setting one up?

What is a feedback loop?

Most companies will send out the occasional survey, make some quick fixes and then forget about feedback for a few months. But if you’re serious about improving your offering, that’s just not enough.

A customer feedback loop is a process that’s built into your user journey and allows you to continuously learn from your customers’ experiences. It consists of gathering feedback, learning from it, applying suggestions and responding with solutions. Then asking for more feedback.

To be fully effective, customer feedback loops need to be reapplied again and again – it isn’t called a loop for no reason! This constant communication with your users helps you build your business in line with what they actually want and need.

Why is it beneficial?

Using feedback loops brings many benefits. You’ll stay up to date with the issues and complaints your customers have – meaning you can fix them faster. This will improve customer retention and review scores.

You’ll discover new opportunities to connect with your customers, as well as new features and content ideas that you would never have thought of.

Feedback loops also keep you grounded. A feature you’ve just dreamed up might seem like the perfect addition to your business, but in the end it’s your customers that decide if it’s any good. Applying feedback loops to your customer interactions allows you to constantly refine your product and stay competitive.

How do I set up a feedback loop?

The feedback loop can be divided into three stages that are all equally important: gathering feedback, analysing the data and learning from it, and applying changes to your service.

1. Gather

First, you need to collect your customers’ opinions. There are a variety of ways to do this, from call centres to live chats and social listening.

One of the most effective tools are surveys and feedback forms. These give your users a dedicated space to leave their feedback. Even better, surveys can be targeted to specific users, allowing you to collect more detailed feedback.

You’ll get more responses if you keep your survey short – no one likes to spend ages filling out forms. Allowing for open responses (not just yes or no answers) will give you deeper, more insightful answers. If you’re struggling to get many responses at all, try providing incentives – discounts, extras and exclusive content are a powerful motivator.

2. Learn

Once the data is collected you need to analyse it.

The easiest way is to look for patterns in the feedback. List recurring issues by frequency and importance to your company’s growth. If you are an e-commerce business, identify where carts are getting abandoned and hunt for points of confusion in your clients’ user journeys. Once you’ve identified clear issues, explore how to fix them with your wider team.

The answer could be to make a process simpler, introduce more guidance or create a new feature. You could engage your users by asking what solutions they would like to see.

Once you’ve started fixing your issues regularly, be sure to check back on the data for the previous week, month or year to see if your improvements are working.

3. Apply

When you’ve drawn your conclusions, it’s time to apply fixes to your product. Start with the most critical or frequent issues. Small changes and enhancements can be made simultaneously.

Acknowledge your customers’ feedback by letting them know about upcoming changes and big fixes through emails or blog posts. If someone’s made a complaint, get in touch personally to let them know their concerns have been taken seriously. Ask them if the fix has solved their issue.

How do I maintain a feedback loop?

While you’re making changes, new feedback will be constantly filtering in, ready for evaluation.

The trick is to make gathering and acting on feedback part of the everyday running of your business. Many survey tools will condense survey responses into a digestible format – schedule these reports to come through to you often so you can make reading them one of your regular tasks.

Set aside time for discussing and workshopping customer problems with your team each week. Ensure that every complaint gets a response and all feedback is logged so it can be acted on. Automate the customer feedback loop as much as you can and it’ll become second nature in no time.

When all that is done, make sure you shout about it! Create a regular newsletter or blog series, or take to social media to tell the world about your new features and fixes. Invite your users to provide feedback as often as they like, and make it easy for them to do so.

Make open and honest communication part of your brand’s identity and you’ll inspire loyalty in your customers for years to come.