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You Said, We Did: What Is Operational Transparency & How Can It Lead to Experience Improvement?

On this blog, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about the importance of taking action on customer feedback to inspire tangible Experience Improvement (XI). For most programs, this “action” means closing the loop with individual customers while also working to identify and solve systemic problems to improve the overall customer experience. But after closing the inner and outer loop, there are those brands that take even further action with operational transparency.

This additional step communicates to customers the actions a brand has taken to directly improve the customer experience. And for taking this extra step, brands are rewarded with further customer engagement and loyalty. In our article today, I’ll discuss how your brand can take this final step and reap the benefits. Let’s dive in!

What Is Operational Transparency?

“Operational transparency” is a behavioral science concept that refers to a company that purposefully exposes its processes to customers to help them understand the work being done on their behalf.  Think watching employees at Subway build your sandwich, or make your coffee at Starbucks. Another example is seeing a progress bar during a software update that lets you know you’re on item 5 out of 20 updates, just so you know how long it will be before you can work again.  

Research has shown that customers value this glimpse into a company’s process and that being transparent builds engagement, trust, and loyalty. Why? Customers appreciate the work companies do for them.

How Operational Transparency  Improves Your Customer Experience  

Operational transparency can be a two-part process embedded into your customer feedback efforts. First, you can combine your transparency efforts with your immediate “thank you for participating” message after a survey. This can look like providing a short overview of how you as an organization plan to look at the feedback and take action. This message can be sent to both participants and non-participants.

So what does this do for you? It lets you be completely transparent about the process and show how feedback will shape the organization. It’s not necessary to identify the exact actions the organization is going to take based on the feedback. Instead, you could mention previous actions you’ve taken as evidence that you aren’t just making empty promises

Secondly, it is important to communicate the actions you’ve taken after the fact to bring feedback full circle. This communication can piggyback on existing marketing communications, be included in feedback invitations, or be a standalone communication.

The key is to be short and focused on a few specific actions, sharing both the feedback driving it as well as the actual improvement (and maybe even how it’s been received). The idea here is to say to your customer, “you said, we did!”

How Does This Work in Practice?  

We have many clients who successfully communicated their Experience Improvement actions to their customers. Here are just a few of those examples: 

  • One client, a global supply chain company, sent out an email from their COO in early January to all of their customers, thanking them for their business and sharing the results of their survey alongside the improvements the company planned to make.  The company tracked the number of customers who opened the email and found that the vast majority of customers opened the email.
  • One of our superannuation clients builds operational transparency into their ongoing newsletter to fund members and employers. They include in the newsletter an update of any action that has been taken based on their voice of the customer program. 
  • A shipping company has automated their customer communications through our platform. They have an email that explains their action process and also highlights several initiatives they have implemented based on the feedback they’ve received. They update the email regularly to keep it fresh and relevant.
  • A global technology company has created a page on their website which they continuously update to reflect the actions they have taken based on customer feedback. In an annual email, they incorporated a video from the CEO regarding how feedback was used to make changes, including a summary of the items implemented.

In the end, this type of transparency not only engages customers, but it also communicates how much you value their feedback. It is a way to show appreciation for the customer while also building loyalty. And that’s what we like to call a win-win.

About Author

Rita Balgeman Senior Research Manager in Customer Success

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