Feedback loops play an important role in all aspects of life. Basic human physiology, for example, relies on feedback to maintain a safe environment. Feedback loops influence our behavior, and many electronic devices use them as well. So why do some organizations forget to use this important tool?
Feedback loops are simple to understand: you produce something, measure information on the production, and use that information to improve production. Around it goes—a constant cycle of monitoring and improvement. To stay healthy, every aspect of a business needs feedback loops. If a company isn’t measuring data on its work, how can it improve? Customers, employees, teams, departments, production areas, and nearly everything else should contain feedback loops.
Social Media Listening As A Feedback Loop
Social media listening is a good example of a feedback loop. There are four steps to this process:
1. The customer complaint: The feedback loop begins when a customer complains about a negative experience via social media.
2. Gathering information: A community manager listens to the customer and gathers information about the complaint.
3. Routing the problem: Once the community manager understands the basis for the complaint, he or she can route the problem to whichever department is best equipped to solve it.
4. Solving the problem: Finally, the relevant department relays the solution to the community manager, who then reconnects with the customer to resolve the issue.
This is a basic example of a feedback loop. Every step in this process generates information: what causes customer complaints, how customers make their concerns known, what departments receive the most complaints, how quickly the business solves problems on average, and more. Enterprises can use such information to increase their efficacy.
The Benefits Of Feedback Loops
I can’t do many important tasks in just two seconds, can you? However, the Red Bull Racing team can change all four tires on a Formula One car in less than two seconds. How on earth did they become that quick and efficient?
The answer is practice and constant improvement. How do the team members know what they need to improve? Feedback loops. They do something, measure how they did it, how quickly they did it, etc. Then they develop methods to do it even faster. Repeat this process enough times, and you reach the maximum level of human efficiency for the tasks in question.
However, feedback loops do not apply only to racing teams, changing tires, or speed. You can incorporate feedback loops into any task or interaction. Anything that has measurable information and room for improvement can incorporate a feedback loop.
Incorporating Feedback Loops Into A Business
Any organization can improve by adopting and using feedback loops, but not all organizations use this essential tool. For example, some will create products without installing a system that measures the efficiency of the production method. Without such measurements, how can they know if production is dropping in speed or if there’s an easy way to boost efficiency? The same thing goes for improving upon existing services or offering new ones; a company can’t know how well it’s performing if it doesn’t have a feedback loop to measure performance.
We’ve already discussed social media, but there are other ways to incorporate a feedback loop within an organization. Staff surveys are one way to generate data. Although biannual forms may be antiquated, a business can streamline this feedback loop by encouraging a communicative culture. For example, daily breakfast meetings are an excellent opportunity to collect feedback or generate ideas from workers.
A business needs to monitor its own performance and seek ways to improve in order to thrive and grow. To stay competitive, all companies need to surpass their past performances. Feedback loops are key to providing the insight and direction for such enhancements.