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The ROI of VOC: 7 Expert Insights from Paul Stevenson and Rick Denton

Customer experience (CX) is a critical driver of business success, and the voice of the customer (VOC) is the compass that guides it. But how can you ensure your VOC program delivers tangible business value?

In a recent LinkedIn Live chat hosted by Thematic, CX experts Paul Stevenson, a recognized CX leader with a proven track record in digital transformation and customer-centric strategies, and Rick Denton, a profit navigator specializing in helping companies unlock business value through CX process optimization, tackled this very question. They shared actionable insights on maximizing the return on investment (ROI) of VOC, moving beyond surface-level metrics to create real business impact.

Whether you're a seasoned CX professional or just starting your journey, this article will distill the experts' wisdom into seven key takeaways, offering a roadmap to transform your VOC program from a cost center into a powerful engine for growth. Get ready to discover how to leverage customer feedback to improve your products, services, and bottom line.

1. Shifting the Focus of CX: From Sentiment to Value

Rick Denton emphasized a fundamental shift in the CX landscape: "We're here to improve the outcomes. We're here to improve the business the tangible business value." The focus is moving away from merely improving customer sentiment metrics like NPS and CSAT to driving tangible business value and measurable outcomes. This means focusing on actions that directly impact the bottom line, whether through increased revenue, cost savings, or improved efficiency.

Paul Stevenson added that delivering customer value often translates to making things easier for customers: "And for me, that's actually making things easier for your customers, whether it's policy process, you know, procedures, how they do things, how they interact with you, making things easier."

Thematic Pro Tip: Use Thematic to uncover hidden customer needs and pain points across all your feedback channels, ensuring your CX initiatives are focused on delivering tangible value that customers truly care about.

2. VOC as a Strategic Toolkit: Beyond Surveys

Paul highlighted the importance of viewing VOC as a strategic toolkit: "Voice of customer is the toolkit that you have available to you to drive brand value in the organization." He emphasized that VOC encompasses more than just surveys. It includes all channels where customers express their opinions and experiences, such as social media, contact center interactions, and even product usage data.

However, Rick noted that many companies still equate VOC with surveys: "And so many people, kind of the conventional wisdom, when they hear voice of the customer, they think survey." This limited view can hinder companies from realizing the full potential of VOC.

Thematic Pro Tip: Go beyond surveys and analyze unstructured customer feedback from various sources like social media, reviews, and support tickets with Thematic. Uncover emerging trends and prioritize actions that drive business impact.

3. The Power of Complaints: A Valuable Source of Insights

Both experts emphasized the value of customer complaints as a source of insights. Paul stated: "I think, you know, complaints are a rich, rich source of intelligence that allow you to action it, and to resolve it by building better products, services, and platforms." Rick added that addressing complaints can directly lead to cost savings and business growth.

Thematic Pro Tip: Analyze customer complaints with Thematic to quickly identify common issues and their root causes. Use these insights to prioritize improvements that have the biggest impact on customer satisfaction and loyalty.

4. Building a VOC Culture: Embedding Customer-Centricity in Your Organization

Paul and Rick stressed that to truly maximize the ROI of VOC, it's crucial to go beyond data collection and analysis. "If the CFO or or the COO isn't asking this group for the insights that they're providing, then that's where something has gone awry," Rick stated, emphasizing that a thriving VOC culture involves active engagement and utilization of customer insights across all levels of the organization.

Building this culture requires a deliberate and intentional approach, starting with tying VOC analysis to core business goals. "Your biggest challenge as a CX leader in any organization is to make sure the voice of the customer is an integral part of business strategic planning," Paul emphasized. By demonstrating how VOC insights directly impact revenue, profitability, and customer satisfaction, you can gain buy-in from key stakeholders and foster a company-wide commitment to customer-centricity.

Communicating the relevance of VOC to different teams is also essential. "If I'm set as a developer in an IT, you know, function, how do I use this information?" Paul questioned, highlighting the need to tailor insights to each department's specific needs and responsibilities. By providing clear, actionable recommendations based on VOC data, you can empower teams to make customer-focused decisions and drive meaningful change.

Thematic Pro Tip: Use Thematic to create customized reports for different departments, highlighting the customer feedback that is most relevant to their goals and KPIs. This not only promotes a shared understanding of the customer but also demonstrates the value of VOC in achieving department-specific objectives.


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5. The Importance of Reliable and Diverse Data Sources

To make informed decisions and demonstrate the value of VOC, it's crucial to have robust and reliable data from diverse sources. Paul highlighted the importance of this, saying: "Your first and fundamental issue is, is the information that I'm presenting reliable?" This means going beyond surveys and analyzing feedback from various channels, including customer behavior data.

Thematic Pro Tip: Utilize Thematic's multi-channel analysis capabilities to identify inconsistencies and gaps in your customer feedback data. This helps ensure the reliability and accuracy of your insights.

6. CX Leaders as Commercial Strategists

Paul emphasized that CX leaders must evolve beyond data collection: "As a customer experience leader today, it is simply not good enough just to have the insight. You've got to know how to action it and execute it and have empathy for the people that own those areas of the business that are actually on the hook commercially for the targets and goals that, you know, that that need to be achieved in that financial year."

He stressed the importance of understanding and communicating how VOC insights can drive commercial value, stating, "You've got to link the two. And as a customer experience leader today... it's just that linkage between the information that you have in front of you and the commercial value that's been that that is that is that could be achieved through, you know, driving those changes through."

Thematic Pro Tip: Use Thematic to track the impact of CX initiatives on key business metrics over time. Quantify the ROI of VOC and demonstrate the value of CX to the broader organization.

7. Breaking Down Silos and Fostering Collaboration

Voice of the customer data can be a powerful tool for breaking down silos within an organization. By highlighting cross-functional issues and demonstrating the impact of customer experience on various departments, VOC can foster collaboration and a shared focus on customer-centricity. Rick Denton explained, "That customer voice breaks down those silos and allows implementation of these ID these actions to move forward."

Thematic Pro Tip: Use Thematic to create customized reports for different departments, highlighting the customer feedback that is most relevant to their goals and KPIs. This promotes a shared understanding of the customer and encourages cross-functional collaboration to improve the overall customer experience.

Your Roadmap to VOC ROI: Key Takeaways and Next Steps

Paul Stevenson and Rick Denton's insights reveal that maximizing the ROI of VOC involves a multi-faceted approach. It's about shifting the focus from sentiment to value, leveraging VOC as a strategic toolkit beyond surveys, embracing complaints as valuable insights, democratizing data across the organization, ensuring the reliability and diversity of data sources, empowering CX leaders as commercial strategists, and breaking down silos to foster collaboration.

By implementing these strategies and utilizing tools like Thematic to analyze and act on customer feedback, businesses can transform their VOC programs into powerful drivers of growth, customer satisfaction, and long-term success. Remember, the voice of the customer isn't just about listening; it's about understanding, acting, and ultimately driving business outcomes.

Ready to see how Thematic can revolutionize your VOC program? Schedule a guided demo today and discover how AI-powered analysis can unlock the hidden value in your customer feedback.

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