Customer Feedback 101 – 4 *Simple* Contact Center Management Tips

Customer Feedback 101 – The ACAF Customer Feedback Loop

What would you learn if you could get inside your customers’ heads?

If you knew what they love about your products and call center services

and what they hate… 

One way or another, every business is trying to understand their customers. Why? Well, partly because that’s how you keep the money coming in

But there’s a more important reason:

“The customer’s perception is your reality.”

Kate Zabriskie, Customer Experience Coach

That’s a powerful idea! Until your customers tell you what you are… you won’t know

But great customer feedback is how you’re going to find out!

customer service revenue


Why bother with customer feedback?

Just in case you’re not sold – what’s the point of collecting customer feedback? 

Feedback is a vital part of your business ecosystem. 

You need customers who spend money reliably. So, you need customers who are loyal. So, you need customers who are satisfied. So… you need to find out what drives that satisfaction.  

Loyal, satisfied customers are also the best source of new customers. Referrals are better than advertising!

Here’s the bottom line. 

There you have it. Customers want to give feedback and you want to know whether they’re happy. 

Get it right, and your customers will stay longer, spend more, and bring their friends along too. 

But that doesn’t mean that getting feedback is easy. If you want to do it right, you need a process – so let’s take a look at that process.

The ACAF Customer Feedback Loop

Luckily, there’s a clear and relatively simple process already made.  

ACAF feedback loop

ACAF is made up of four steps:

1. Ask for feedback from your audience; use online forms, audience panels, social media etc.

2. Categorize that feedback; how it was gathered, what does it measure?

3. Act on what you learn; create processes and policies that reflect what customers want.

4. Follow-up with customers; let them see that giving feedback was worthwhile.

Now, let’s take a closer look at those steps.

1. Ask for feedback

ACAF feedback loop ASK

Let’s start at the beginning. 

A lot of the feedback you’re likely to ask for will be well defined.

For example, Customer Satisfaction (CSat), Customer Effort Score (CES) and Net Promoter Score (NPS) are all numerical.

(Here’s where you can get a refresher on how to measure CSat, NPS and CES.) 

That makes them easy to understand. You want CSat and NPS to go up. You want CES to go down. 

They’re also simple to gather, because plenty of customers will take ten seconds to hit a button. 

But some of the best feedback is undefined. 

This usually means verbatim feedback, notes and comments which customers provide. This feedback could be about anything, so it’s harder to process. 

But it’s where some of the best insights come from! 

newsletter banner

What kinds of feedback should you ask for?

There are three areas where you should aim to learn more:

  • Your products
  • Your customer service
  • Your business’s performance over time 

You can sometimes cover each of these areas in a single survey. But in general, it’s better to focus on a specific area. 

Except in rare circumstances, customers only commit to very short feedback requests.

80% of customers have abandoned a survey before completing it. Most will only complete a survey that takes less than three minutes. 

Net promoter score NPS

How can you ask for feedback?

One of the most important questions to answer is how you’ll ask for feedback.

You have a few options, each suited to different requirements. Here’s a (very brief) overview of some of the most effective. 

Outbound SMS 

SMS may not be the most advanced call center technology but it’s still some of the most used and most trusted.

You can conduct simple feedback with SMS messages, or use them to send out links to online surveys. 

SMS response

Automated web forms

It’s easy to leave webforms on your site. It’s especially useful to have them at key points in the customer journey. 

For example, if a customer leaves before completing an order, don’t you want to know why?

order completion

Social media monitoring

If there’s one place where customers are always talking about brands, it’s on social media. 

Obviously, if you’re going to have a social media presence, you need to respond to queries and comments that come your way. 

But you should also consider using social listening – keeping up with mentions of your brand that aren’t directed at you. There are several tools that help you to do this.  

Online chatbots

You already know how effective chatbots are for service. So what’s stopping you from using them for feedback too? 

The trick is not to overload customers with questions. Figure out one or two useful pieces of information you might be able to extract, like OptiMonk has. 


IVR surveys

IVR service is better than ever thanks to conversational IVR. And as uptake for IVR increases, the opportunity to use IVR for feedback does too. 

That generally means a post-call survey about the quality of contact center service. 

Review sites

There’s also feedback which exists whether you access it or not. There are review sites for every kind of product and service – and that probably includes yours.

A lot of businesses pay close attention to the free and detailed data that’s gathered on these sites. 

public review

Outbound phone surveys

Compared with the automated surveys available, placing outbound phone calls is fairly pricey.

But that extra cost comes with a bump in quality. A real, person-to-person conversation can give real insight into the customer experience. For a blended contact center this can be the best use of agent time when call volume is low. 

Phone calls are also the best way to respond to negative feedback – but we’ll get to that in part 4. 

2. Categorize the feedback

ACAF feedback loop categorize

Alrighty then! You know how to ask for the feedback. Put those ideas in place, and feedback will come flooding in.

Now all you need is a way to organize it all… 

There’s no smooth way to do this manually, so your first step is to investigate customer feedback software. That will allow you to automate major parts of the process. 

But you will still need to define your categories. 

As we’ve already discussed, feedback generally falls into three ‘buckets’:

  • Your products
  • Your customer service
  • Your business’s performance over time 

The product category and service category are pretty self-explanatory. Your business’s performance over time can cover different things, like your marketing presence or broader brand perception. 

Let’s take a closer look at the kind of lessons you’ll find in each of these three. 

Your products

Do people like the goods they buy from you? That might be the most fundamental question you can ask. 

This category focuses on customer expectations – how high are they, and were they met? Are there issues with your products? Do customers use them in the way you expect?

Ask for this feedback with:

  • Post-purchase web forms
  • Review sites
  • Outbound phone calls 

You can usually rely on CSat and verbatim comments for this category.

Your customer service

How was the purchase process or general service? This covers everything from the politeness of support staff to the ease of checking out online. 

This feedback can be really invaluable in an age where UX is so make-or-break for online purchases. (In fact, it will cross over with UX design a lot.)

website feedback

Ask for this feedback with:

  • Post-call IVR surveys
  • Social media monitoring
  • Outbound SMS

CES and NPS are generally the most helpful measures in this category. Also, verbatim comments.  

“If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”

Jeff Bezoz, Amazon Founder

Your business’s performance over time

Obviously, you’re not going to ask customers ‘how did we perform over time?’

You can view this category as a subset of the previous two, tracking how and why measures change over time. 

Alternatively, this category can be where you tackle things like general brand awareness or the impact of marketing campaigns. 

Ask for this feedback with:

  • Online chatbots
  • Social media monitoring
  • Outbound phone calls

3. Act on the feedback

ACAF feedback loop Act

Full disclosure: this is where most businesses fail. 

It’s one thing to gather up your customers’ thoughts. But actually doing something about them? 

That’s a whole other story… 

Half of customers do not believe that their feedback ever makes it to someone who can act on it.  

In a lot of cases, those people are right. 

Like we said at the top of this post, customers like it when you ask their opinion. As a result, some businesses feel obliged to ask for feedback they don’t intend to use!

So how can you act on the feedback?

The first step to getting anything done is making it somebody’s job. Two-thirds of businesses have a CX leader and a centralized CX team. 

Having a nominated expert – a ‘doer’ – is a great start. 

One of their key missions is to communicate – and secure buy-in from – various teams around the business. 

That means:

  • Sales and Marketing 
  • Customers Services 
  • Your Product Team
disagreeing team

You need to bring your findings to each of these teams on a regular basis to share the feedback and establish trends. 

So far so… well, maybe not easy. But straightforward.

The next step is harder.

The problem is, a team may already know the problems they face, but lack the resources to fix it. 

For example, at babelforce we deal with contact centers and customer service teams. Contact centers face the same problem everywhere; broken processes that can’t be fixed affordably. 

The answer in that scenario is No-Code automation.

When contact centers can update their processes without writing code – when they don’t need to tie up dev resources or raid their budget – they can constantly evolve. 

So that’s your important second step – identify the roadblocks that prevent fast, flexible changes. 

4. Follow up on the feedback

ACAF feedback loop follow up

Ready for the final hurdle?

Once you’ve completed the first three steps, your business will start to get stronger. You’ll efficiently fix problems as they appear. 

Following up on the feedback doesn’t directly affect this process. But letting your customers know that their feedback matters achieves some of the same goals. 

service channels

Nobody wants to feel like they’re wasting their time. So a simple email, SMS or even snail-mail letter goes a long way. 

  • Send short, automated messages to acknowledge and thank customers
  • Send longer and less frequent messages to thank them, and let them know what decisive actions you’ve taken
  • Respond to specific, negative feedback to retain customers

All in all, it’s pretty simple!

In fact, you should be able to set up the automated processes behind great feedback very easily. (An auto dialer is a key component – reach out to dissatisfied customers with zero manual work!)

Now, it’s about time to learn more about how the best in the business automate every part of their customer service and marketing. 

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