Closing the Loop on Customer Feedback: It Boosts Sales and Retention and It’s Easy To Do. Here’s How.
If you’re building a product, you probably are collecting customer feedback—about 95% of companies do.
You might even be in the smaller group of companies that actually systematically use that feedback to inform their product development. If so, you’re ahead of the curve.
But there’s one more thing companies do after they build a requested feature that really distinguishes them as customer-centric: they let their customers know.
This is called “closing the loop”.
We’re not talking about a newsletter blast or a change log (those are important—definitely do those too).
Closing the loop is a personal, one-to-one communication that shows your customers that you’ve heard them and built what they asked for. Closing the loop gives you credit for building what your customers want.
Closing the loop is an easy way to give you credit for building what your customers want.
And it can be as easy as sending an email.
But if you’re like many of the hundreds of companies that we’ve talked to, using spreadsheets or Trello to organize how you close the loop can feel leaky. It’s not easy to automate and you might suspect (or even know) that some customers are falling through the cracks.
So here’s how to create a simple but iron-clad system for closing the loop that you can rely on and that’s not painful to use.
The best part? Your customer will love you, churn will go down, and you’ll keep getting the feedback you need to build a winning product.
Closing the loop is more than a sales tool
Quickly though, why would you do it?
Only about 5% of companies close the loop and tell their customers when they make a product change because of a piece of feedback. Why should you be in that 5%?
For many, closing the loop is valuable because it builds relationships with customers and ultimately drives sales.
Closing the loop on customer feedback builds relationships with your customers.
That’s true, closing the loop does drive sales and account expansion: when you build relationships with your customers, they’ll be more likely to increase user seats, win upsells, or otherwise grow their account with you. It can also help you with acquisitions for deals you previously lost.
But there are two additional ways that closing the loop provides value.
It boosts retention. When customers see that you’re building the product based on their feedback, they’ll be more likely to stick with you and your product. Closing the loop can save at-risk accounts and reduce churn.
The other—and perhaps underrated—benefit is that closing the loop encourages future feedback. Since feedback is essential for achieving market fit, closing the loop actually becomes a tool for building the best product: the more you do it, the more your customers feel heard and actually give feedback, and the better information you have to drive your product decisions. It becomes a virtuous cycle.
So closing the loop isn’t just a sales tool (although it is a sales tool). It’s also a customer success tool as well as a product management tool.
Prerequisites for an iron-clad closing the loop system
In order to build a leak-proof system for closing the loop, you’ll need to have the following already established.
You need a process where your teams receive feedback and record it. That means your customer-facing staff understand when they’re hearing feedback, know they should record it, and then actually do record it.
You need to be able to group the feedback by feature request. That means you can easily see each individual who requested a particular feature.
You need a way to contact your customers easily. That could be a list of email addresses, or through another tool like Intercom, Zendesk, or Help Scout.
Check out our guide for more on building a customer feedback tracking system that works.
How to build a simple system for closing the loop on customer feedback where no one falls through the cracks
Step 1: Track what’s been shipped
Create a trigger in your product development workflow to signal when a feature is ready to be marketed. This will include when it’s ready to go out to customers as a “close the loop” communication.
This trigger should notify the person who is responsible for closing the loop. It could be an email, a report, a meeting, or even a slack channel.
However you do it, create a step in your workflow to kick off closing the loop.
Step 2: Decide who notifies customers and prospects.
This is often in the realm of customer success since they are usually the most current on communications with your existing customers and have that relationship already established.
But it might also be your sales team if you’re dealing with new prospects. It may even be the founder if you’re getting in touch with one of your really big clients. It also could depend on where the requester is in the customer life cycle.
For any and all of those cases, choose a person to be responsible for sending the communication.
Step 3: Consider the medium
What channel are you going to use to close the loop?
Email might be the simplest choice. If you work with a CRM and you track customer communication, this is great because you can just bcc your CRM and it will get logged automatically.
Another option is the same channel the feedback came in on. For example, if the feedback came in on Help Scout, you might follow-up there too.
Step 4: What to send
You want to keep this communication short and sweet. The goal is just to get on your customer’s radar, show them you’re listening, and get credit for building what they asked for.
The essentials are:
Noting that they asked for a feature and you built it.
Providing a link or an attachment where they can learn more or turn on the feature.
Thank them for the feedback and encourage them to give more.
Here’s what a simple but effective close the loop email can look like.
Step 5: Send it
This part can be as simple as hitting send, but most companies will likely want to automate this process.
The simplest—but most labour intensive—system is to send individual emails to the customers who have made a feature request. This could mean opening 20 Intercom messages or copying and pasting 20 email addresses into Gmail. You would then note it in your customer feedback database so that the same people don’t get notified twice.
A somewhat better, more automated way is to get an email list and do a mail merge. You would collect your emails in a list and draft a template email. Then, you’d hit send, and make a note in your database of who you’ve contacted.
An even better way is to use a purpose-built tool like Savio. That way you could send hundreds of personalized emails from a single interface with just a few clicks. You just find the feature, choose the requesters, enter your message, and hit send.
Savio allows you to easily send close the loop emails to anyone who requested a feature.
Some tools, including Savio, also automatically track who has been notified.
That makes it easier to notify your customer in batches or notify prospects at a different time than current customers, and so on. It also makes it easy to coordinate notifications by different internal teams.
Savio makes it easy to track who has been notified about new features.
You can also BCC your CRM so that it’s logged there, too.
BCC your CRM to ensure all your closing the loop emails are logged.
Step 6: Mark as done
When you’ve closed the loop with everyone you need to, mark it as “completed” in your workflow.
Again, Savio makes this easy because you can mark features as having a certain status. You can change that status as done.
But this is easy to do in a spreadsheet or on Trello, too. Just make sure that you know when the loop has been closed on a feature.
A leak-proof close-the-loop system can boost your revenue and improve your product
Closing the loop is one very simple way to show your customers and prospects that you’re listening to them and what they say matters. It’s an extremely effective way to build a relationship with your customers.
You’ll love the responses your customers give you to your close the loop emails. We certainly do.
That’s why it’s an easy way to increase sales and boost retention: happy customers will stay and expand their account.
But—and here’s what lots of people miss—it’s also a product development tool.
When customers feel heard, they’ll give more feedback. And that, in turn, helps you make better decisions about your product.
So make sure closing the loop is baked into your development process. It’s easy to set up your own system using spreadsheets, Trello, or your other project management tools. A purpose-built tool like Savio can help you automate the process and reduce the manual labour.
Closing the loop can be a small investment of your time, but give back massive returns in customer satisfaction, improved revenue, and a product your customers love.Last Updated: 02-10-2021
Kareem is a co-founder at Savio. He's been prioritizing customer feedback professionally since 2001. He likes tea and tea snacks, and dislikes refraining from eating lots of tea snacks.