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Survey Says: Close the Loop!

Shawn Phillips Shawn Phillips 05/27/2022

I’m going to channel my inner Steve Harvey and imagine we’re playing a CX-themed Family Feud:

One hundred CX Leaders were surveyed and asked, “How can you quickly show tangible value from your CX program?”

And the survey saaaaaays…Close the loop!

Over the past six weeks, I have talked to a lot of CX professionals/nerds/geeks/leaders. That includes practitioners at Fortune 100 companies, people in Finance, and a variety of others. Over and over, I heard the same refrain from smart, well-intentioned people in programs struggling to show value. They lamented that are just not able to get the attention of the people they need to reach. That, in turn, means they can’t get the budget to make significant strides.

But the solution to that problem is in reach. The No. 1 answer to getting quick, tangible results that get the attention of the C-suite is closed loop feedback.

But what exactly does “closing the loop” mean?

It means you have a system in place where you respond directly to customer feedback. This is often from a survey, but can be calls, social media comments, or verbal feedback in a store or branch.

And “tangible results” means you are able to show that specific actions taken as part of your customer experience initiatives resulted in a customer staying longer, spending more, costing less to serve, and not churning.

This is far more impactful than just showing that a survey score changed, which typically isn’t meaningful enough to leadership.

Finding missed opportunities

Take this example: A long-standing customer of a bank filled out a survey after an interaction at her local branch. She wrote, “You have awful service. You do not take care of your clients.” Shortly after submitting that response, she withdrew $80,000 from that bank and moved it to a different financial institution.

Because the bank had just implemented a closed loop pilot program, an employee called the customer and learned more about what had prompted her actions. It turns out that customer had been coming into the bank to get printed statements because the address on file for her was incorrect, so she couldn’t receive her statements by mail.

No one in the branch had ever checked her address in the system! When she came into the branch, she asked for a printed statement and that’s what they gave it to her.

But the employee who reached out after the survey did check. And corrected the address. As a result, the customer moved her money back to the bank. Not only that, soon after, she also provided a referral for someone who needed a small business loan.

One call. That’s all it took for the customer to believe in the bank again – and recommend it to someone else. It doesn’t take many stories like that to show the value of a CX program with closed loop feedback.

Getting to the root of the problem

Here’s another example: A manufacturer had a client who ordered the same three products regularly. It didn’t add up to a lot of business, but it was consistent. When the client received a relationship survey – their first in 10 years! – he provided the following feedback: “You are hard to do business with. It’s almost not worth the trouble.”

During a (sometimes uncomfortable) follow-up call, the client explained that they felt the ordering process was archaic. They said they only order the three products they can’t get anywhere else – the other things they need that the manufacturer offers they source elsewhere.

The client’s customer success manager had thought that the client preferred paper forms, so they never told them about the online order portal they had launched three years earlier.

As a result of the follow-up call, they offered the client some training for using the portal. It made the ordering process immeasurably easier, and the client now orders 12-15 different product lines. Share of wallet and recurring revenue went through the roof. That’s a $500,000 annual increase in revenue.

Building your own stories

Use this three-pronged approach:


I am a technology guy, and prone to jumping into any new venture by opening up software and playing around. But as I tell my programming students, that’s a sure-fire way to have to do a lot of rework. Start with process instead and define these variables:

  • Who you are asking the questions of.
  • What you will be asking and why.
  • The “when” – what triggers the opening of the feedback loop? (Is it a transaction, an anniversary, a specific change in customer behavior?)
  • Who will get to see the responses.
  • What actions they need to take and how fast they need to take the actions.
  • Where and how they record the results – you’re going to need them to write your stories!


Our research shows that virtually every CX program already has tools in place, like Qualtrics, that can execute on a closed loop feedback system. But few are using what they are already paying for to its fullest potential.

  • Program the survey: If this takes a long time, your survey is too complex. Just a few good questions will get you what you need.
  • Get your customer list: You need to know who you are sending to. Ideally you will work with IT to get an automated feed daily to trigger your survey. This is a straightforward IT task. But IT resources might be hard to come by. Don’t let that stop you! Plenty of CX people jumpstart their program by getting the data manually. Once they’ve gathered a few compelling stories, IT resources will be allocated to automate the task.
  • Set up your workflow: When feedback comes back in, you want your system to categorize it and automatically let the right people know it’s waiting for their response. This can be as simple as an email. In time, you can automate pushing the surveys to Salesforce or other CRMs and assigning associates tasks. Starting simple will still get you sharable results.
  • Set up a ticketing system or Excel spreadsheet to track the results of your efforts: This is where you will mine your gold.


The human component of change is almost the always the most challenging part. People are busy and don’t want to add to their workload…unless they can see value. So start small. Ask one group if they want to be the “poster child” for reducing churn/selling more/reducing cost to serve. (All potential direct results of implementing a close loop system, and one call can save thousands of dollars in lost revenue.)

I often use the ADKAR change model to help get others moving in the right direction:

  • Awareness: A person needs to be aware of the need to change before they can start. The team you choose should already be aware there is a better way, even if they’re stuck.
  • Desire: Just because someone’s aware of a need for change doesn’t mean they’re willing to make it! Help your chosen team see the benefits awaiting them and their customers. Having a good answer for “what’s in it for me?” is an effective way to get people on board.
  • Knowledge: You need to know how to change. The good news is, you have defined the process. Share it with the team, so they know how and when to close the loop. Often, the process changes a little based on team feedback. Those who are going to execute will often have improvements that increase effectiveness.
  • Ability: If you have prepared the systems and process documentation, the team should have the ability to execute successfully. Often teams might need some training on best practices for dealing with frustrated customers. Or they might need to familiarize themselves with the tools you are using for the closed loop feedback system.
  • Reinforcement: “Train once and forget it” does not work. You have to find ways to reinforce the desired behavior. This is best done with weekly meetings where you celebrate the successes of the previous week. And there will be successes – customers respond overwhelmingly positive when a company reaches out and shows genuine appreciation for their feedback.

Size doesn’t matter!

Starting small is a perfectly valid approach. Show tangible value quickly by implementing a tiny closed loop feedback process with just one group. Manually push out a survey. Send an email to notify a team member they have feedback to act on. Make sure people record what happens. Voila!

The stories you gather will allow you to grow your program and build momentum that only increases and accelerates your impact. The more groups you bring on to close the loop, the more value you show, the more investment will be made in CX.

While there are many answers to what CX leaders can do to show tangible value quickly, the No. 1 answer is “Close the loop!”

I couldn’t have written this blog post without the CX pros who shared their success stories in order to help others trying to show value from their own CX efforts. If you have already implemented a closed loop feedback program, please share your stories here or on Linkedin to inspire others as they begin that journey!

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