Some things to consider as you close the loop

 
The exact communication method you choose for closing the loop is up to you.
One Way Communication
  • Hand out flyers
  • Put up a poster
  • Create a web page
  • Send an email
  • Post on social media
Two Way Communication
  • Hold a town hall meeting
  • Discuss during a program meeting
  • Process with a client advisory board
  • Create a game

Remember, closing the loop is about creating two-way dialogue and building trust. Even if that’s not possible for you, one-way communication can still be effective, simply by letting clients know you’re listening to them.

Also consider asking your clients how they prefer to receive communications and follow their lead for your next feedback loop.

The main message should be “this is what you said, and this is what we’re doing about it.”

Keep your message brief and relevant to your clients. Don’t just offer feedback results. Put them in some kind of context and, if you can, tie them to actual actions you’re taking in response to their feedback.

Note: It’s common for organizations to believe that closing the loop doesn’t yield anything tangible. It’s important to remember, though, that it’s about creating more trusting relationships with your clients—so that, going forward, they’ll provide you with even more extensive and candid feedback.

Closing the loop demonstrates that you’re genuinely listening, even if you can’t always resolve every concern. For clients that aren’t used to having their voices heard, this can be huge.

HOLA’s students were excited to see that their voices were heard and that they were able to enact change in the program through providing feedback. Some of these students will be surveyed again in the coming weeks and look forward to sharing even more of their thoughts, asking when it will be their turn to be interviewed.

Don’t fall into the trap of waiting for the perfect time. Just do it and your next feedback loop will be even more rewarding.

Your organization is busy and there are a lot of priorities. It’s common for closing the loop to unintentionally slip off your agenda. But it’s important to reach out to your clients soon after you’ve analyzed their feedback. Consider if there are natural points in your organization’s schedule when you can close the loop, such as regularly scheduled meetings, annual gatherings, and scheduled newsletter blasts.

By incorporating their suggestions into program improvement, the participants no longer see themselves as separate entities from the organization but as active protagonists who help shape the program to meet community needs.

Bringing an Equity Lens

LANGUAGE

If you have clients who speak other languages, did you translate your closing-the-loop materials?

ACCESSIBILITY

Are the formats of your closing-the-loop materials accessible to your clients? For example, if you plan to use email, consider which clients might not have access.

CONTEXT

Do your closing-the-loop materials work for your clients’ context, such as their age, literacy level, and communication styles?

FEEDBACK STORY

Los escuchamos! We hear you!

So proclaim the placemats — some written in Spanish, some in English — in the dining room at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Phoenix, which serves 1.2 million meals to hungry guests each year.

On specially designed paper mats placed at each table setting, SVdP shares information and data from the survey and highlights the organization’s responses. Diners who asked for academic assistance for their children, for example, can find out that math tutors are now standing by every night in the next room over.

svdp story

“Los escuchamos!” “We hear you!”

So proclaim the placemats — some written in Spanish, some in English — in the dining room at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Phoenix, which serves 1.2 million meals to hungry guests each year.

The placemats are part of “closing the loop,” reporting back on the feedback the organization collects from its clients through Listen4Good (L4G).

Clients fill out surveys; SVdP makes changes based on the responses; and then the organization closes the loop by letting clients know how they listened and reacted – in this instance, by sharing information and data on specially designed paper mats put at each table setting. That way, clients who said on the surveys their food needed more kick, for example, would learn that hot sauce is now available at the condiments bar. Others who asked for academic assistance for their children find out that math tutors are now standing by every night at the resource center next door.

And bigger changes are on the way, too. In response to interest in more medical services, SVdP plans to start offering regular health screenings and preventative-care health programs.

SVdP closes the feedback loop with residents in its temporary housing program a little differently than it handles things in its busy dining program. With a smaller group of clients living in the same facility, staff are able to speak to everyone directly at group meetings. In a PowerPoint presentation at one such meeting, residents learned that concerns they shared on L4G surveys about access to public transportation were being answered with plans to acquire a wheelchair accessible van. After survey results demonstrated how worried some clients were about eventually having to transition out of the temporary housing, the organization started arranging send-off parties and giving out “home packages,” kits of necessary and familiar household items for residents to take with them.

SVdP gave $10 Walmart gift cards to some survey takers as “a way to respect the time they were giving us,” Kara Beer, the group’s grant manager says. The gift cards may have also been an incentive to take the survey, and nearly all the housing residents asked to participate during attendance at a weekly meeting did. But dining-room guests did not know in advance they would receive a gift, and still, response rates were quite high. To boost participation, the organization asked volunteers to encourage diners to take the survey, and made sure it had bilingual speakers on hand to help out. SVdP also wrapped the collection boxes for the completed surveys in gift-wrapping paper. Not only did the boxes look more inviting, staff said, but guests felt it demonstrated that their responses would remain anonymous.

“We are fully embracing this,” says Kara, “and we want to show our guests this is fun, but also serious and meaningful to all of us.”

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