Closed-Loop Communication

Closed-loop communication is a simple but effective technique used to avoid misunderstandings during the communication process. Here, the person receiving information repeats it back to the sender to ensure they have understood the message correctly. 

Understanding closed-loop communication

Closed-loop communication describes a technique used by an individual to prevent misunderstandings.

In essence, closed-loop communication is a process of cross-checking communicated information for accuracy.

It is especially prevalent in clinical care contexts since no single medical discipline or specialty can meet all of a patient’s needs

Here, the technique ensures that different teams can communicate with clarity and completeness and avoid making potentially life-threatening errors. 

Closed-loop communication in business

Closed-loop communication is also effective in business as a way to ensure teams possess shared expectations, objectives, awareness, and plan execution.

Engineer, entrepreneur, and leader Jarie Bolander had this to say about the topic:

In business, ‘closing the loop’ is akin to following up, checking in, or closing the deal. The term comes from control systems where they close the control loop in order for the system remain stable.

When business systems are unstable, employees find themselves in an all-too-familiar scenario.

This occurs when we rely on someone to do something, but for whatever reason, that person either ignored us, forgets about it, or does the wrong thing entirely.

To ensure the loop is closed every time, here are some helpful tips:

Set clear objectives

Think about what needs to be done and craft an implementation plan that makes sense. If a task is time-sensitive, make it known!

Listen carefully

To verify that your message is resonating with the audience in the way you intended, listen carefully to how they explain it.

Establish follow-up points

Many avoid touching base with a co-worker because it is uncomfortable, awkward, or inconvenient.

However, it’s important to establish follow-up points to ensure the task is completed satisfactorily.

These points include mutual deadlines, providing feedback before a certain date, or providing status updates for material changes such as closing a deal or hitting a milestone.

Model desirable behavior

Employees who expect others to promptly follow up on their actions should set the tone and model the behavior themselves.

This shows that they understand the importance of closing the loop and are willing to create awareness to ensure the technique is adopted by others.

Closed-loop customer experience management

Businesses can also draw inspiration from closed-loop communication to respond directly to poor customer feedback and resolve complaints so that the customer remains loyal. 

Others use a similar technique to follow up with promoters, encouraging them to recommend the product or service to a friend or join a customer advocacy program.

Nevertheless, in the case of the former scenario, a closed-loop customer feedback system has two primary components:


The alert system that creates a request in the system when there is an unhappy customer.

The team interested in resolving poor feedback can filter comments such that only negative or neutral NPS scores enter the system, for example.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a measure of the ability of a product or service to attract word-of-mouth advertising. NPS is a crucial part of any marketing strategy since attracting and then retaining customers means they are more likely to recommend a business to others.

Case management system

This enables the customer success team to track ticket progress and work with the customer until the matter has been resolved.

Importantly and in keeping with closed-loop communication, all members of staff remain in the loop and have access to the ticket’s history at all times.

Case Studies

Project Management:

  • Project managers confirm team members’ understanding of tasks and deadlines to prevent misunderstandings.
  • Regular checks ensure project progress aligns with goals, enabling adjustments as needed.

Supply Chain Management:

  • Verification of shipment details, schedules, and requirements at each supply chain stage minimizes errors and disruptions.
  • Closed-loop communication ensures a seamless flow of goods and information.

Customer Support:

  • Support agents acknowledge and resolve customer issues.
  • Confirmation with customers ensures problem resolution and high satisfaction levels.

Product Development Feedback:

  • Users provide feedback on products (bugs, features).
  • Development teams acknowledge feedback, provide progress updates, and inform users of improvements.
  • This reinforces user engagement and loyalty.

Quality Control in Manufacturing:

  • Quality control inspectors communicate issues to the production team.
  • Confirmation follows corrective actions to maintain product quality.

Emergency Response:

  • Responders confirm instructions during high-stress situations to avoid errors.
  • Closed-loop communication enhances safety during emergencies.

Sales and Marketing:

  • Sales teams provide feedback on lead quality and campaign effectiveness.
  • Marketing teams use this feedback to refine strategies and campaigns for better alignment.

Software Testing:

  • Testers report software defects to developers.
  • Developers fix the issues, and testers verify the corrections.
  • This iterative process continues until all defects are resolved.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM):

  • CRM systems track customer interactions and action items.
  • Support teams use CRM data for effective customer follow-up and service.

Cybersecurity Incident Response:

  • Analysts acknowledge and confirm their understanding of instructions during cybersecurity incidents.
  • Closed-loop communication ensures coordinated and accurate incident response.

Key takeaways

  • Closed-loop communication describes a technique used by an individual to prevent misunderstandings. In essence, it is a process of cross-checking communicated information for accuracy.
  • Closed-loop communication is also effective in business as a way to ensure teams possess shared expectations, objectives, awareness, and plan execution. This can be achieved via setting clear objectives, listening carefully, modeling desirable behavior, and establishing follow-up points.
  • Customer success teams can also use closed-loop communication to resolve customer complaints or encourage promoters to take some form of desirable action.

Key Highlights

  • Introduction to Closed-Loop Communication:
    • Closed-loop communication is a technique used to prevent misunderstandings during the communication process.
    • The receiver repeats back the information to the sender to ensure accurate understanding.
  • Application in Clinical Care and Business:
    • Closed-loop communication is crucial in clinical care contexts to ensure different medical teams communicate clearly and avoid errors.
    • In business, closed-loop communication ensures shared expectations, objectives, awareness, and effective plan execution.
  • Importance in Business:
    • Engineer Jarie Bolander compares closed-loop communication to maintaining control systems for stability in business operations.
    • Failing to close the loop can lead to breakdowns where tasks are ignored, forgotten, or executed incorrectly.
  • Tips for Effective Closed-Loop Communication:
    • Set Clear Objectives: Craft clear implementation plans and highlight time-sensitive tasks.
    • Listen Carefully: Pay attention to how the audience explains the message to verify understanding.
    • Establish Follow-Up Points: Create points for checking in, providing feedback, and updating on task status.
    • Model Desirable Behavior: Lead by example to promote the importance of closing the loop.
  • Closed-Loop Customer Experience Management:
    • Businesses can apply closed-loop communication to respond to customer feedback and resolve issues, fostering loyalty.
    • Closed-loop feedback systems include ticketing to track negative or neutral feedback and case management for issue resolution.
  • Components of Closed-Loop Customer Feedback:
    • Ticketing: Alerts and requests are created for negative or neutral customer feedback to address issues.
    • Case Management System: Enables tracking and resolution of customer issues with all staff members having access to the ticket history.

Read Next: Communication Cycle, Encoding, Communication Models, Organizational Structure.

Read Also: Lasswell Communication Model, Linear Model Of Communication.

Connected Communication Models

Aristotle’s Model of Communication

The Aristotle model of communication is a linear model with a focus on public speaking. The Aristotle model of communication was developed by Greek philosopher and orator Aristotle, who proposed the linear model to demonstrate the importance of the speaker and their audience during communication. 

Communication Cycle

The linear model of communication is a relatively simplistic model envisaging a process in which a sender encodes and transmits a message that is received and decoded by a recipient. The linear model of communication suggests communication moves in one direction only. The sender transmits a message to the receiver, but the receiver does not transmit a response or provide feedback to the sender.

Berlo’s SMCR Model

Berlo’s SMCR model was created by American communication theorist David Berlo in 1960, who expanded the Shannon-Weaver model of communication into clear and distinct parts. Berlo’s SMCR model is a one-way or linear communication framework based on the Shannon-Weaver communication model.

Helical Model of Communication

The helical model of communication is a framework inspired by the three-dimensional spring-like curve of a helix. It argues communication is cyclical, continuous, non-repetitive, accumulative, and influenced by time and experience.

Lasswell Communication Model

The Lasswell communication model is a linear framework for explaining the communication process through segmentation. Lasswell proposed media propaganda performs three social functions: surveillance, correlation, and transmission. Lasswell believed the media could impact what viewers believed about the information presented.

Modus Tollens

Modus tollens is a deductive argument form and a rule of inference used to make conclusions of arguments and sets of arguments.  Modus tollens argues that if P is true then Q is also true. However, P is false. Therefore Q is also false. Modus tollens as an inference rule dates back to late antiquity where it was taught as part of Aristotelian logic. The first person to describe the rule in detail was Theophrastus, successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school.

Five Cannons of Rhetoric

The five canons of rhetoric were first organized by Roman philosopher Cicero in his treatise De Inventione in around 84 BC. Some 150 years later, Roman rhetorician Quintilian explored each of the five canons in more depth as part of his 12-volume textbook entitled Institutio Oratoria. The work helped the five canons become a major component of rhetorical education well into the medieval period. The five canons of rhetoric comprise a system for understanding powerful and effective communication.

Communication Strategy

A communication strategy framework clarifies how businesses should communicate with their employees, investors, customers, and suppliers. Some of the key elements of an effective communication strategy move around purpose, background, objectives, target audience, messaging, and approach.

Noise if Communication

Noise is any factor that interferes with or impedes effective communication between a sender and receiver. When noise disrupts the communication process or prevents the transmission of information, it is said to be communication noise.

7 Cs of Communication

The 7Cs of communication is a set of guiding principles on effective communication skills in business, moving around seven principles for effective business communication: clear, concise, concrete, correct, complete, coherent, and courteous.

Transactional Model of Communication

The transactional model of communication describes communication as a two-way, interactive process within social, relational, and cultural contexts. The transactional model of communication is best exemplified by two models. Barnlund’s model describes communication as a complex, multi-layered process where the feedback from the sender becomes the message for the receiver. Dance’s helical model is another example, which suggests communication is continuous, dynamic, evolutionary, and non-linear.

Horizontal Communication

Horizontal communication, often referred to as lateral communication, is communication that occurs between people at the same organizational level. In this context, communication describes any information that is transmitted between individuals, teams, departments, divisions, or units.

Communication Apprehension

Communication apprehension is a measure of the degree of anxiety someone feels in response to real (or anticipated) communication with another person or people.

Closed-Loop Communication

Closed-loop communication is a simple but effective technique used to avoid misunderstandings during the communication process. Here, the person receiving information repeats it back to the sender to ensure they have understood the message correctly. 

Grapevine In Communication

Grapevine communication describes informal, unstructured, workplace dialogue between employees and superiors. It was first described in the early 1800s after someone observed that the appearance of telegraph wires strung between transmission poles resembled a grapevine.

ASE Model

The ASE model posits that human behavior can be predicted if one studies the intention behind the behavior. It was created by health communication expert Hein de Vries in 1988. The ASE model believes intention and behavior are determined by cognitive variables such as attitude, social influence, and self-efficacy. The model also believes that intention predicts behavior such that one’s attitude toward a behavior is influenced by the consequences of that behavior. Three cognitive variables are the primary determinants of whether the intention to perform a new behavior was sustained: attitude, social influence, and self-efficacy. Various external variables also influence these factors.

Integrated Marketing Communication

Integrated marketing communication (IMC) is an approach used by businesses to coordinate and brand their communication strategies. Integrated marketing communication takes separate marketing functions and combines them into one, interconnected approach with a core brand message that is consistent across various channels. These encompass owned, earned, and paid media. Integrated marketing communication has been used to great effect by companies such as Snapchat, Snickers, and Domino’s.

Social Penetration Theory

Social penetration theory was developed by fellow psychologists Dalmas Taylor and Irwin Altman in their 1973 article Social Penetration: The Development of Interpersonal Relationships. Social penetration theory (SPT) posits that as a relationship develops, shallow and non-intimate communication evolves and becomes deeper and more intimate.

Hypodermic Needle

The hypodermic needle theory was first proposed by communication theorist Harold Lasswell in his 1927 book Propaganda Technique in the World War. The hypodermic needle theory is a communication model suggesting media messages are inserted into the brains of passive audiences.

7-38-55 Rule

The 7-38-55 rule was created by University of California psychology professor Albert Mehrabian and mentioned in his book Silent Messages.  The 7-38-55 rule describes the multi-faceted way in which people communicate emotions, claiming that 7% of communication occurred via spoken word, 38% through tone of voice, and the remaining 55% through body language.

Active Listening

Active listening is the process of listening attentively while someone speaks and displaying understanding through verbal and non-verbal techniques. Active listening is a fundamental part of good communication, fostering a positive connection and building trust between individuals.

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