The Benefits of Closing the Community Engagement Feedback Loop

Closing the Community Engagement Feedback Loop

Closing the community engagement feedback loop may be one step in the engagement process that is overlooked due to limitations of staff time or bandwidth. After collecting public input and finding key insights, state and local governments might be tempted to go straight to the decision-making stage without following up with residents to demonstrate how their input may have impacted the plan or issue.


What Are the Benefits of Closing the Community Engagement Feedback Loop?

There are real benefits to closing the feedback loop, both in the short run and in the long run. The right software can help automate time consuming tasks and make it easier to close the feedback loop, whether creating visual results and reports, posting findings online, or sending a follow-up email. Below are some success stories that illustrate the real-world benefits of closing the feedback loop.


Providing opportunities to continuously engage residents and increase awareness and participation

Community engagement is a cyclical, dynamic process that should build stronger relationships with residents. Throughout multiple initiatives, GoTriangle worked to close the feedback loop with residents with the goal of increasing awareness and participation with impacted communities.

“It’s as simple as, the community said it, so we did it. That’s what we try to do with our community input . . . this is what you said you wanted, and so we brought it to you”


–Juan Carlos Erickson, Community Engagement Manager at GoTriangle

With well-documented communication tactics and engagement data, GoTriangle was able to clearly tell the story of public feedback and win grant funding:

    1. Combining online and traditional engagement methods, GoTriangle reached thousands of residents for feedback on over 50 bus routes.
    2. Input data was used to create data visualizations and summary reports to make the large response set understandable to internal stakeholders.
    3. Using meaningful data directly from potentially impacted communities, GoTriangle was able to create a draft transit plan, which it then shared with the public and project participants.
    4. Contact information gathered in outreach was automatically stored and segmented in a public participation base. With a larger audience of active citizens, GoTriangle re-engaged residents in decisions about Bus Rapid Transit and commuter rail.
    5. This follow-up survey received 700 responses, which quantified public sentiment and led to grant funding.


Creates two-way communication and meaningful opportunities for feedback, every step of the way.

When a Major League Soccer (MLS) team was positioned to move to the city of Austin, TX, staff prioritized the feedback process by requiring that all input would go directly into the negotiations with MLS team owners.

[Resident input] certainty informed the conditions that the city council laid out in their approval to move forward… it armed them with reliable information.”


— Doug Matthews, Former Communications Director at City of Austin

By gathering community input and reporting it back to Austin stakeholders, staff were able to demonstrate that the priorities of its residents were being considered transparently. Here are just few of the steps the city team took to ensure this process:

    1. After an initial survey, Austin created visual reports and embedded them directly into the city’s website.
    2. By making it optional to provide an email address when taking the survey, the city was able to let those residents who provided an email (680+) know that the results had been posted and thank them for participating.
    3. The city council then took that input from the public and implemented it in their opening negotiations with MLS ownership.
    4. Austin offered up a second opportunity for resident input, this time in the form of an online town hall, laying out the initial provisions. During this time, residents were able to elaborate and drill down into the issues that meant the most to them.
    5. With this follow-up feedback, the communications team returned to City Council and the economic development team with a thorough understanding of where the community stood.
    6. Austin used this feedback, proportionate to concern and interest, directly in the final stages of negotiation with MLS ownership.


Closing the feedback loop builds relationships and public trust

After looking at email engagement data from dozens of PublicInput customers and over 6 million emails generated from our platform, a clear pattern emerged. Residents want to hear from state and local governments about the issues that topics that may impact them. By lowering the barriers to participation, capturing relevant information, and most importantly by following up, governments can ensure that their decisions are transparent, effective, and sustainable.

Agencies closing the loop with residents mid-project or immediately following a project saw open and click rates far above industry-average benchmarks. In fact, when compared with MailChimp, the leading e-commerce email tool, our partner agencies achieved more than double the industry average open rate:

Here are a few real life community engagement examples from our customers:

Closing the feedback loop isn’t just a nicety, it has a real impact on making more informed decisions that improve the day-to-day quality of life for residents. Through continuous engagement and two-way communications, state and local governments can actively build relationships and public trust. In fact, this has quantifiably been found true through research by The World Bank: closing the feedback loop is critical to building public trust.


Decrease Workload and Build Public Trust

Want to learn more about how your agency can streamlining your community engagement efforts to save time, increasing trust and expand participation?

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Engage using standard survey question formats that you’re used to with consumer survey tools. From the single and multi-select, to Likert, slider, and text input formats, you’ve got the basics covered.

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