FEEDBACK LOOP:  …

How to Close the Loop

It’s important to think through the what, how, and when of your closing the loop approach.

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

Share the broad strokes or headlines of what you heard, and what you are doing in response. Distill the feedback into digestible nuggets of information, so that your findings and next steps are easy to understand.

Key messages for closing the loop:

  • Thank clients for taking time to provide feedback
  • Highlight 1-3 key themes in feedback
  • Highlight how you intend to address the feedback that you received
  • If you’re unable to make changes right away or at all, acknowledge the feedback and be transparent about why you’re unable to address it at this time. Review ideas about what to include in your message in this case.

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.

When choosing your communication method, consider how you typically reach your clients. You can also ask clients how they prefer to receive communications and follow their lead.
One Way Communication
  • Hand out flyers
  • Put up a poster
  • Create a web page or write a blog post
  • Send an email or newsletter
  • Post on social media
Two Way Communication
  • Hold a town hall meeting
  • Discuss during a program meeting
  • Process with a client advisory board

 

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

Regardless of method, visibly involve leadership in closing the loop. That way, clients know that leaders are invested in the process. And, it signals to your whole organization that listening and responding to feedback is a part of your organizational culture.

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, the sooner you let clients know what you heard and what you plan to do in response, the better. If you wait too long to close the loop, clients may not remember having given feedback — which reduces the impact of your feedback efforts.

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.

If your survey was administered during a particular event or defined period, close the loop as soon as possible. If your survey was administered through ongoing data collection, you might close the loop periodically (e.g., quarterly) or wait until you have a certain number of responses before you begin analyzing the data, then close the loop after. 

As you roll out changes, continue to communicate about how you’re using and addressing clients’ feedback. You may share plans for a long-term change you can’t make immediately. When you eventually make that change, remind clients it is in response to their feedback.

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

Have you translated your closing the loop materials into clients’ preferred languages?

ACCESSIBILITY

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

REPRESENTATION

Do your closing the loop materials include feedback about areas for improvement, including findings that show inequities in client experience?

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 placements 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

Clients fill out surveys; SVdP makes changes based on the responses and then closes the loop by letting clients know how they listened and reacted – in this instance, by sharing information and data on specially designed placement at each table setting. That way, clients who said 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.

SVdP closes the feedback loop with residents in its temporary housing program a little differently. Given the smaller group of clients living in the same facility, staff are able to speak to everyone directly at group meetings. In a 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 temporary housing, the organization started giving out “home packages,” kits of necessary and familiar household items for residents to take with them.