Is “Talk to Loop” the answer to getting feedback from the communities we work with?

3 February 2022
Author: Alex Ross

Driving quality and accountability to communities is an important consideration for Bond member organisations. 

Bond’s Feedback and Accountability Learning Group is a space for NGOs to discuss and share lessons from their experience in gathering, analysing and responding to feedback from community members around the world.

The Group recently held a webinar in partnership with Loop, an organisation with a unique new approach to accountability in the development sector. Here’s an overview of the new platform:

Talk To Loop

At the end of 2021, Loop presented for a second time to the Bond Feedback and Accountability Working Group. Our organisation has developed a lot in the last year.

The platform, Talk To Loop, uses existing phone and computer technology to allow people receiving aid to give feedback safely, easily, and without having to wait to be asked. Wherever they are, from the remotest rural communities to urban areas in crisis, anyone receiving aid can use Loop to tell their own story about aid and whether it is effective and beneficial for them. 

A key principle of Loop is that the platform is genuinely accessible in every possible way. Loop is designed to be easily reached through different channels and tailored to the context and demographic group. Users can access it online if they have computer or smartphone access, or they can use WhatsApp or Facebook messenger. On a standard phone they can use SMS and voice messages. Submitting feedback is free through short code reverse charging numbers.

Importantly, the platform is also accessible back and forth across languages and operates as close to real time as possible.

“Loop, if used widely by both aid agencies and beneficiaries of aid, can potentially be the game changer for the development sector,” - Barbara Nost, CEO of the Zambian Governance Foundation for Civil Society (ZGF)

How it works

Imagine a woman in a Somali IDP camp. She phones 6464 to reach Loop free of charge on any phone. She follows the instructions and leaves a voice message about her experience in her local dialect. 

Loop transcribes that, translates it, tags it with key data and posts it on the open platform. If the relevant organisation is registered on Loop then it receives a notification about the feedback instantly - in their language of choice.

The organisation can then reply to the caller with key information, asking follow-up questions or starting a dialogue. Loop then translates this reply, tags it, and posts it on the open platform and sends the notification to everyone in the conversation. 

Significantly, Loop also sends a voice message back in the caller’s local dialect. It doesn’t matter whether her phone is switched on: the message from Loop will be there for her to listen to when the phone is charged, turned back on, and has connectivity to the mobile network. 

She can choose to simply listen to the message or she can then reply and the cycle starts again, creating a synchronous dialogue.

This qualitative discussion simultaneously contributes to a quantitative analysis of data about what local people want to share about their experience. In turn, this data can inform programme, funding, and policy decisions in the future.

This same system can also be used to report serious complaints about exploitation, fraud and abuse, safely, to Loop, which function as an independent actor. These reports are then channeled to the appropriate people for investigation and for assistance where appropriate. 

Loop is complementary to any existing organisational complaints or reporting mechanisms. 

The anonymised aggregate data can then be analysed to identify key risk areas.

Loop has just been launched in the Philippines, Zambia and Somalia, and will soon be available in Indonesia. The platform is managed in each country by a network of local actors. These networks host Loop moderators, who are local professionals.

Loop intends to roll out to dozens more countries over the coming decade, positively impacting thousands of communities and potentially millions of individuals.

 

We look forward to hearing from organisations who sign up and use Loop. If you have any further questions please contact Alex directly at [email protected] or connect on socials TalkToLoop.org | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

Join the Feedback and Accountability Learning Group here to engage in discussions with fellow Bond members on gathering, analysing, and responding to feedback.

About the author

Loop

Alex Ross is the managing director of Loop