Communication is a crucial aspect of the feedback management process. In fact, the feedback loop should really start and end in the exact same way: with an interaction with the user or customer who submitted the feedback. Unfortunately, a common trend amongst the teams we work with is that they immediately transition from feedback collection directly to internal discussions around prioritization, with no formal process or thoughtful consideration for how they plan to communicate with users either post-collection or pre-launch. Heck, many teams don’t even have a thoughtful process for closing the loop with users post-launch. 

Think about how most teams close the loop with customers today. Often, a product or engineering team informs a customer-facing team that an outstanding customer need has been addressed and asks them to “let everyone know.” The process for letting everyone know? The customer team has to wade through countless notes in countless account records in the CRM, review related Jira issues in hopes that they added affected customers in the comments, and then manually reach out over email, phone, or in a QBR to inform the customer that their need has been addressed. Hint, hint: this is a horrible experience for the customer team, so it almost never happens. So what do many teams do instead? They post a product update to their changelog or send out a massive press release to everyone and cross their fingers in hope that the affected customers read those announcements.

We cannot overstate how much of a lost opportunity this breakdown in the feedback management process represents. The truth is that – more so than actually addressing customer needs – it is thoughtful, transparent communication with customers regarding the consideration of their needs that is the most successful way in which teams build long-term loyalty and emotional connection with the people that use their products.

In short, it is critical that teams invest as much energy into thinking about how they communicate with users about their feedback as they do in prioritizing that feedback on their roadmap. The question is how best to do this. Let’s take a look at just a few of our recommended tips and tricks.

1. Closing the loop is a process, not a step.

When many teams think about “closing the loop” with customers, they tend to think about this as the last stage of the feedback management process. But communication isn’t the final stage of the process; it’s a critical effort that exists across every stage.

So, the first (and arguably most important) rule for closing the loop with users: don’t wait until the end. Your team should be thoughtful about how you’re communicating at every single step of the feedback management process – during feedback collection, as you review and make progress, and yes, as you ultimately address their needs. Frequent and consistent communication will act as the vein that runs through and empowers the entire feedback management process. Even more, it’s the one of the absolute best ways in which a company can build lifetime loyalty with its customers while simultaneously providing defense against customers whose needs you won’t address.

Treat your customers as collaborators in the ongoing evolution of your products and services by making them feel involved and engaged in the process. We promise you will see a growing number of deeply invested, long-term evangelists for your business.

2. Communicate progress, not just completion.

If you take away just one thing from this article, let it be this: you should be communicating the progress of a piece of feedback across the stages of the feedback management process – not just its completion. Every moment of progress is an opportunity to keep users in the loop and promote deeper engagement or loyalty. After you’ve done an initial review of the feedback item. After you’ve assigned it to someone on your team to explore. After you’ve put it up for a vote with other users. After you’ve added it to an issue in Jira. After it has entered the current sprint. After it’s in QA. Informing your users about each of these micro-progressions is a small but powerful step in making them feel that their needs are important to you and are being sincerely considered. 

These interactions do not have to be in depth. They don’t have to be commitments to timelines or specific approaches to addressing the need. They’re just low touch ways to make your customers feel like they’re receiving a high touch experience. In general, we recommend keeping it simple. Let users know when you’ve received their feedback. Let them know when it has been reviewed. Let them know if you are (or are not) actively considering it. Let them know when it is being prioritized. And let them know when it is released. 5 simple touchpoints, many of which can be automated to ensure scalability. Together, they represent a transparent and participatory feedback loop that every user would be happy with.

3. Closing the loop is the start of the loop.

If your feedback management process is a proper loop, then it should start and stop at the same place – with an interaction with your users. So, if the loop traditionally starts with feedback collection, we typically assume that it ends with the communication of the resolution of that feedback. This moment of closing the loop is a crucial one; it’s the culmination of all of the hard work and care that your team has invested in addressing customer needs. It’s also a physical display to your users that you were listening to them all along.

But remember: the feedback process is a loop, not a dead end. This means that the moment of closing the loop with your users should act as the start of the next feedback loop. How? By ensuring you treat the moment as an opportunity for further feedback collection. How well does your first approach address the user’s needs? Does your approach give the user ideas for other needs? By treating the end of the initial feedback loop as a semicolon rather than a period, you can leverage your users to inform the ongoing improvement of your product and business.

Conclusion

Communication with users is not just the last stage of the feedback management process; it is a critical element that exists across all stages of the process. In fact, thoughtful and transparent communication regarding progress toward addressing customers’ needs is one of the most effective ways in which teams build long term loyalty. 

For more customer communication best practices, as well as how to optimize asking for user feedback, manage users’ expectations, and communicate across the entire feedback loop, check out our new guide on closing the loop with users!