What exactly does the term “closing the loop” mean to you? Is it the part of an experience strategy that is only executed by the most mature customer experience (CX) organizations? Does it refer to encouraging employees to personalize closing the loop with customers? Since any closed-loop process starts with handling the customer, it’s well worth discussing the inner loop and the importance of resolving individual feedback.
What is The Inner Loop?
The term “inner loop” refers to closing the loop at its most granular level: addressing and resolving feedback submitted by individual customers. The inner loop stands distinct from the outer loop, which denotes instilling a company-wide system of customer service excellence and a commitment to addressing criticism.
The outer loop is important, of course, but it’s built upon dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of one-on-one interactions between customer-facing employees and the individuals whose business sustains that brand. Organizations can’t execute a culture of great customer service if the interactions sustaining that culture are subpar. Because of this, it pays to commit to closing the inner loop.
Why Close The Inner Loop?
Any company that hopes to maintain continued success (let alone transformational success), will take closing the inner loop seriously. Customers that take the time to voice a concern deserve and expect to be heard. No one enjoys listening to upset customers, but brands that take the time to hear their concerns and formulate solutions will see a surge in both loyalty and retention.
Closing the inner loop can also alert companies to problems and pain points that they were unaware of, giving them the chance to both retain a customer and create a meaningful, permanent fix. Not every customer who encounters a problem will actually let a brand know, which is why it’s all the more important for organizations to listen to the individuals who do speak up.
Finally, addressing criticism and solving problems allows companies to build one-on-one relationships with individual customers who are questioning their relationship with that business. Like we mentioned earlier, customers will stick with a brand that they feel hears them out, which is perhaps the most crucial reason that firms should dedicate themselves to this process. In short, closing the inner loop boosts customer retention, lowers customer unhappiness, reveals potential problem areas, and provides continuous improvement opportunities.
How Can Companies Close The Inner Loop?
Companies that want to truly close the inner loop need to include their employees in the process. The inner loop consists entirely of employee-customer interactions, so encouraging workers to own their part of this process can vastly improve it. The more personalized an employee makes this experience (and the more passionate they are about it), the better a brand will be at closing the inner loop.
Lending an ear means a lot to customers, but companies need to act on their feedback to close the inner loop. Thus, brands need to create a system that allows them to meaningfully act on feedback. Nothing drives customers away more than not being heard, so it’s key for organizations to create initiatives that address customer concerns. This is the natural progression from the inner to the outer loop.
Circling Back Around
Closing the inner loop doesn’t end with fixing whatever problem a customer complains about. Rather, companies only truly close the loop by circling back and letting their customers know what their feedback resulted in. Brands should always reach back out to customers, let them know that they were heard, and share how the problem they reached out about was addressed. This will tremendously boost both a customer’s opinion of that brand and their sense of connection to it.
It’s equally important that brands let the employees involved in feedback collection know about these developments. Customer-facing employees who are made aware of the changes that transpired as a result of their diligence will take more pride in their work, ultimately enriching that crucial personalization we talked about earlier. Companies can also incentivize employees who go above and beyond at closing the inner loop, but it doesn’t need to be financial. Creative recognition builds a more sustained cultural impact than a simple spot award.
Building The Outer Loop
Brands that take closing the inner loop seriously will have an easier time creating an effective outer loop process. A successful outer loop drives a company-wide culture dedicated to solving problems and listening to customers. Both loop-closing processes also enable companies to become aware of pain points, fix them, and reap continued success. Thus, closing the inner loop is not only a vital function in and of itself, but also the foundational building block of organizational achievement.
Want to read the next chapter about how you can close the outer loop? Check out the full article, “The Value of Closing the Loop“!