Customer feedback helps businesses understand what their customers want and need, identify areas for improvement, and make changes that will improve products, services, and CX.
Yet, managing customer feedback is not always easy. Enter the ACAF feedback loop, a simple framework that companies can follow to design a clear-cut, successful feedback strategy.
ACAF is an acronym where each letter represents a step within the feedback management process. Here is what it stands for:
- Ask for feedback
- Categorize the feedback
- Act on the feedback
- Follow up on the feedback
Let’s consider each of these steps in more detail to help companies action the ACAF feedback loop.
Step 1 – Ask for Customer Feedback
The first step is to reach out to customers, gathering a broad range of opinions and perspectives. This starts by considering: what are we trying to achieve? Companies will find it much easier to create relevant customer questions that will draw actionable feedback by thinking this through.
However, remember that it is best to focus a feedback initiative on a single area of the product or service experience to avoid overlooking critical improvement opportunities.
Next, companies can start to deliberate over how they will ask these questions to customers, whether that is in the form of surveys, interviews, focus groups, or other research methods.
Here, companies should keep in mind that only on rare occasions do customers respond to all feedback requests – especially customer surveys. So, as a rule of thumb, if a survey takes more than three minutes to complete, it is too long.
Finally, consider whether to send the survey randomly across the customer base or to pick out particular segments. The latter can help avoid survey fatigue and allows for more targeted research.
Step 2 – Categorize the Feedback
Categorizing feedback starts with identifying a single location to store, organize, and share all the collected feedback.
After, businesses may decide on how they will categorize responses, whether that is based on keywords within their responses, which journey the customer followed, or demographic data that is likely available within the CRM system.
Voice of the customer (VoC) software will help companies store responses and create categories while making it easier to spot feedback trends, pinpoint reoccurring problems, and understand the extent of each issue. As such, companies can prioritize and determine which areas need improvement.
Advanced VoC solutions may also allow companies to split responses via sentiment, providing valuable data for customer journey design initiatives.
Step 3 – Act on the Feedback
The third step is to act on feedback, and this involves stakeholder collaboration. After categorizing customer feedback, organizations should share their findings with the relevant teams – which will likely include the design, product development, marketing, sales, and customer service departments.
Then, create processes and policies that reflect what customers want and how teams can work towards it.
Based on the feedback gathered, businesses may need additional time to formulate a plan afterward, which they should incorporate into the ACAF roadmap.
In this scenario, the process of acting on the feedback should include a short and sweet response to customers who provided their perspectives, thanking them and setting expectations about when they will hear from the company again.
Step 4 – Follow-Up with Customers
Following up with the customers who took the time to share their thoughts completes the ACAF feedback loop.
Doing so allows businesses to build relationships with customers, showing them that they have a voice and likely improving customer loyalty.
Unfortunately, many businesses skip this stage due to time constraints. Yet, they should keep in mind that if customers feel a company is ignoring their perspectives, their future interest in sharing more feedback and in the business as a whole is likely to dip.
Best Practices for ACAF Feedback Loop
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when using the ACAF feedback loop:
- Be sure to ask customers for feedback regularly to stay up-to-date on customer needs and wants
- Don’t forget to say thank you! Showing appreciation for customer feedback goes a long way
- Create powerful data visualizations that will encourage other departments to make changes
- Even if a common piece of feedback is impossible to action, follow up with customers to tell them why. Doing so makes the company seem genuine
- Evaluate the results of the changes to see if they improve the product or service and measure the effectiveness of the ACAF feedback loop
The Bottom Line
The ACAF feedback loop is a structure that supports businesses in extracting more value from the feedback they collect.
The essential steps are to ask for customer feedback, categorize the feedback, act on it, and follow up with customers who shared their thoughts. By following these, businesses can improve the products, services, and experiences they offer.
Yet, setting up an effective customer feedback system can seem like a daunting task because there is so much data from so many sources, and then companies must connect and analyze it all.
However, as 75 percent of customers do not feel that businesses listen to them – according to a 2021 Alida study – enhancing feedback management is likely to become a pertinent CX priority.
With the help of the ACAF feedback loop can ensure customers feel listened to and retain customers.
Interested to learn how to gain more customer feedback? If so, check out our article: 11 Excellent Ways to Collect Customer Feedback