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Feedback loop: What you need to know

Last updated

21 February 2023

Reviewed by

Miroslav Damyanov

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A big part of staying in business is staying ahead of your competition. The most successful businesses constantly refine their products and services to continually provide top-quality output. Feedback loops are vital to this process.

Let’s learn what feedback loops are and how you can implement them.

What is a feedback loop?

Put broadly, a feedback loop is a process in which you gather feedback on a product or service, use it to refine your offering, and gather feedback on your improvements. You repeat the process until you’ve solved most or all of the issues. 

In business, this feedback typically comes from customers or product testers. 

The importance of feedback loops

Market dynamics and customers’ needs and desires are constantly changing. A product that met everything a customer needed a year ago might fall short today. 

When that happens, your company needs to adapt, or someone who better addresses those issues will take your place. 

Feedback loops allow for continuous refinement that keeps customers returning throughout their changing needs.

The two types of feedback loop

Before you can take advantage of feedback loops, you need to understand how they work. First, there are two main types of feedback loops: Positive and negative. 

Positive feedback loops

Every company likes positive feedback, yet many don’t use positive feedback to make improvements.

If your customers are saying nice things, you must be doing something right. Still, it can be difficult to know what you’re nailing if you’re not using feedback loops.

Positive feedback loops allow companies to narrow down the specific aspects that keep customers happy. Armed with this information, you can incorporate that positive thing more frequently in your product or customer interactions. 

Negative feedback loops

Very few people like getting negative feedback. But negative feedback loops can help you address problems. As long as you see the feedback loop through to its completion, you'll likely avoid more negative feedback about that aspect of your offering. 

How to gather feedback

You can only create a feedback loop by first gathering feedback. There are many ways to do this, and some ways may be specific to your product or service. 

Here are common ways to get feedback for a feedback loop:

  • Surveys: Send a series of questions to customers to get feedback on their experience.

  • Online reviews: Gather customer feedback and ratings on third-party websites such as Yelp or Google.

  • Focus groups: Bring together a small group of customers to discuss their experiences and collect feedback in a group setting.

  • Interviews: Conduct one-on-one conversations with customers for detailed feedback on their experiences.

  • User testing: Observe customers using a product or service and gather feedback on their experience.

  • Customer service interactions: Collect feedback through interactions with customer service representatives.

  • Social media monitoring: Analyze customer feedback and mentions of your company on social media platforms.

  • Website analytics: Track customer behavior on a website, such as click-through rates and page views, to compile feedback on the user experience.

Product feedback templates

The five steps of a feedback loop

Gather

This is the step where you collect your feedback using the above methods. 

Analyze

The next step is to analyze the feedback you've collected. From it, you can identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement.

Evaluate

Once you've figured out what you need to change, the next step is prioritizing which changes you should make first and which can wait until later.

Communicate

Once you’ve decided on the changes, inform the relevant internal teams and impacted customers of what will happen.

Repeat

Because this is a feedback loop and not a feedback procedure, the process now repeats. Did the changes fix the problem? Did they create new ones? More feedback will tell you.

Feedback loop best practices

The five steps above provide a very basic overview of feedback loops, but there's much more to discuss on the topic. A full breakdown could fill a book, but keep these key ideas in mind when implementing a feedback loop.

Set clear goals and objectives

Clearly define the outcome you want to achieve with your feedback loop, and ensure everyone involved understands what they're working towards.

Encourage open and honest feedback

Create an environment where people feel comfortable giving feedback and make sure they know that you’re listening and acting upon their comments.

Get feedback from a diverse group of people

Collect feedback from various sources, including customers, employees, and partners, to get a well-rounded perspective.

Use multiple channels for feedback

Make it easy for people to give feedback by providing multiple channels, such as surveys, interviews, and focus groups.

Act on feedback quickly

Respond to feedback as soon as possible to show people that their input is valuable and shaping your company processes.

Measure the impact of your actions

Keep track of the changes you make as a result of feedback, and measure the impact of those changes on your business.

Continuously improve the feedback process

Continuously monitor and improve the feedback process to ensure you get the most valuable feedback possible.

Automate the feedback process

Use technology to automate the feedback process, such as sending out automated surveys or using machine learning algorithms to analyze feedback.

Adding feedback loops into your experience design

In highly competitive markets, providing a great experience to customers can be the difference between thriving and being pushed out by competitors. Feedback loops are an ideal way to continually monitor your customer experience and stay ahead of your customers' changing preferences.

Incorporating customer feedback surveys or online reviews into the customer journey is a great way to kick off a feedback loop. While you can choose any stage of their journey, it’s usually best after purchase or at the end of a service. 

You can also use analytics to track how your customers behave on your website or mobile app. These analytics can identify areas where customers are struggling so you can make changes that improve the user experience.

The bottom line

Feedback loops are a vital way to keep on top of your customer’s needs and ensure you’re providing the best service possible. Creating a feedback loop is as simple as sending out a survey to your customers and implementing their changes until they’re happy with your offering. 

To stay ahead of your competition, you need to understand customer sentiment throughout their journey with your company. Give feedback loops a try and see how they impact your sales.

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