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In marketing automation, a feedback loop refers to the process of gathering feedback from customers and using it to improve the delivery of services or products. Automation is highly driven by feedback loops, as every single action you make creates a reaction by consumers.

There are both negative and positive feedback loops and they are both used to quickly highlight significant issues with a product or service. The solutions that are implemented can be either short-term or long term, but without feedback loops, these issues may not be noticed with other forms of data gathering.

In this article and its companion article (Marketing Automation and Positive Feedback Loops), we’ll look at both negative and positive feedback loops so you can determine whether you’re using feedback correctly in order to increase the chances of customer retention and satisfaction.

Negative Feedback Loops

Negative feedback refers to the complaints, grievances and other negative communications that are made by your consumers. A negative feedback loop, therefore, involves a company listening to this feedback and using it to improve products or services, usually by stopping or removing the things customers are finding negative (as opposed to positive feedback loops, where you’d likely add to a positive behaviour or continue to do a positive thing). The reason this is called a loop is because the feedback is considered the output and this is then used as an input that creates a change, which then affects the output (feedback) again, creating a cycle or loop.

If you’re new at the marketing game or have only recently started a new business, you may not yet have experienced negative feedback. In fact, you may believe that you’ll never have to worry about it, as your brand tries to do everything right and you practice exceptional customer service. Unfortunately, the chances of you never receiving negative feedback are extremely small!

Don’t worry though – negative feedback loops are beneficial to both customers and businesses. This is because businesses who listen to the feedback are able to hone their product designs and services to improve their brand and increase customer satisfaction. Customers are happy because they feel like they’ve been heard, they feel valued and they also feel like they’ve made positive contributions to the brand (if you choose to tell them their feedback has contributed to change). Because of this, customers are more likely to remain loyal and become brand advocates.

Despite this, it can still be a little painful to receive negative feedback, no matter how beneficial it is in the long run. It’s important to realise that good marketers should feel the sting when receiving negative feedback, as good marketers should care about their customers and have an emotional connection to their work. It helps to remember that even the best brands with the most costly customer service techniques receive a lot of negative feedback. It’s just part of the game. It also helps to remember that some negative feedback will be due to misunderstandings or mistakes, such as when you receive an email abuse report or spam listing, which could be caused by a customer not knowing how to unsubscribe.

When you receive negative feedback, take a deep breath and remember these things. Don’t take it personally, but don’t lose your empathy either. Try to look at the situation from your customer’s perspective and try to determine what you could have done to prevent the negative feedback. If there’s anything you could have done to prevent it, then implement that so it doesn’t happen again in the future. If you receive negative feedback from a lot of people after an email or other marketing campaign, then it’s a great opportunity to have a look at what went wrong and avoid it next time.

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