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Close the engagement loop: Our reply & group email feature

There's nothing like rediscovering something you already had, better yet, addressing a problem you didn’t realise you had. This week we’re providing you with your very own moment of serendipity by allowing you to experience both of the above.  We're reintroducing two key, engagement-enhancing features of the Community Heatmap; the ‘group and email’ feature and the ‘reply’ feature.

Why reply?    

Well, after consulting over six thousand respondents about their experience with Commonplace, we’ve found that the main reason they hesitate to participate in these conversations is that they don’t believe their contribution will truly be considered, or even read. 39.2% of all respondents have voiced concerns about the lack of follow up.

Although respondents expect a follow-up, only the best engagement teams make time to ‘close the loop’. Fewer than 10% of respondents receive a follow up of any kind and only 1% receive a personalised response. So, the chances are, you’re yet to use our ‘reply’ or ‘group and email’ features.

The beauty of Commonplace conversations is that they connect the community with the placemakers. Project leaders have the opportunity to glean from local knowledge to enrich plans and gain support. However, when the conversation is stopped short, both parties end up missing out.

Learn more about running fruitful community engagement projects.

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How do we close the loop?

As we understand the range of factors governing engagement on varying levels, we’ve built in a number of ways for you to get back to a respondent. You can do this on a 1-2-1 basis or you can choose to respond to any number of targeted segments within your Commonplace audience; you have the freedom to decide which is the most suitable, and when. 

Public replies
The most common and expected response comes in the form of public acknowledgement. Sometimes it really is as simple as thanking a respondent, but on other occasions, you may see fit to use the opportunity to provide the respondent with a bit more context, like in the example below from Nottingham City Council. This response will be on view for the respondent and all future respondents and is a great way to show that all feedback is being considered.

Replies (1)-1

Private replies
Depending on the nature of the comment you’re responding to, you may see fit to reply privately to ensure the comment receives the care and attention it deserves. In this instance, the author of the comment is the only person to see the response.

Grouping tool
Now, I know what you’re thinking, what if there are thousands of comments?! This is where the grouping tool comes in handy. You may be consulting local people about road safety in their neighbourhood, and chances are, the same comments will crop up. In this case, you can group people by sentiment to provide a response. The grouping tool also enables you to segment people by postcode, age, or any other demographic measure, enabling you to re-engage groups who may not have commented on a particular aspect of your consultation. Once groups are formed, as shown in the image below, you can select the relevant category and set about constructing your email response. ‘You said, so we did' is a really simple format to get you started, get in touch for our best practice examples.



This may all sound like a lot of work with very little reward, but we’ve seen benefits of closing the loop and the results speak for themselves. Outside of building a rapport with the groups you engage with, replying to respondents encourages contributions to future projects you might run, and enables a continuation of the conversation.

Practically, the grouping tool has helped secure higher levels of participation in face-to-face activity too. Our customer, Newcastle City Council, wanted to run a localised workshop following their engagement on air quality. They were able to group respondents by sentiment and send direct invites out to these various groups. In the end, 80% of respondents showed up, leading to a very fruitful session.

Looking ahead, we aim to introduce a customisable automated response function, which will take your engagement to the next level, but in the meantime, if you need any help getting to grips with this area of the platform, do not hesitate to get in touch with the Customer Success team, who will happily show you around.

When can you start closing the loop on your engagement?

This feature is live and ready for you to use on your Commonplace platform. If you'd like some more training or help in using it, please do get in touch, and one of our customer success team will be happy to help.

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Nouvella Kusi

Nouvella Kusi