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How to create a customer health dashboard

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Research indicates that customer health dashboards are foundational to measuring, improving and proving the impact of CX efforts, with the vast majority of leading programmes using such dashboards.

16th Jul 2021
Managing editor MyCustomer.com
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Customer experience programmes may be becoming more mature, but the harsh reality is that there are still too many of them that are unable to demonstrate that they are making a difference in their organisations. As Jim Tincher, founder of Heart of the Customer, has noted: “This prevents them from being included in decision-making and contributing to the health of their companies.” 

The solution could be a customer health dashboard. 

What is a customer health dashboard?

Customer health dashboards take multiple customer data metrics to produce a health score for each customer, indicating whether the long-term prospect for a customer is to churn, for instance, or become a high-value, repeat customer. 

When Heart of the Customer interviewed more than 100 CX professionals in 2020 (and surveyed an additional 200), it discovered that customer health dashboards were foundational to measuring and improving (and proving!) the impact of CX efforts, revealing that the vast majority of leading programmes use customer health dashboards.

(For more on this research, check out the Heart of the Customer’s other blog posts and webinar series where they explore each of the major findings in depth).

While it’s not particularly surprising that the leading CX programmes are using customer health dashboards, given the maturity of those programmes, what is fascinating is what characterises these dashboards. 

Digging into the findings, the team found several commonalities between those with successful customer health dashboards - i.e. those that share actionable data that is actively monitored by all concerned and that ultimately drives change.

Heart of the Customer has identified several elements that took their effectiveness to the next level.

They are designed with a specific purpose in mind

Shawn Phillips, chief technology officer at Heart of the Customer, recommends that customer experience leaders look to the ADKAR model to understand how to effect change.

A  -  Awareness: You have to be aware that you need to make a change.

D  -  Desire: You have to want to change.

K  -  Knowledge: You have to know how to change.

A  -  Ability: You have to have the ability to change.

R  -  Reinforcement: You have to reinforce the change.

In this model, dashboards serve a clear purpose - driving the Desire to change, and Reinforcing that the change is making a difference. 

Phillips recommends that the dashboard must tell a story that inspires people to want to rally around your goals. “Dashboards that do not, fail in their purpose,” he says. 

“One of the most successful examples I’ve seen of a customer health dashboard fulfilling its purpose was with a huge manufacturing company we recently worked with. They built a dashboard that people wanted to see because it showed how their work was making a difference.

“In effect, it created a virtuous cycle where the Reinforcement drove more Desire. They ended up having to limit the number of people to save on licensing costs because more than 1,000 people wanted to see and interact with it every week!

“So your first step is to understand the purpose of your dashboard. Only then will you know if it’s pointed in the right direction to achieve your goals.”

The content is kept brief

“You have to communicate your main point in 90 seconds or less to be successful in telling the whole story. That’s harder than it sounds,” explains Jim Tincher. 

“I worked with a national retailer rearchitecting their data warehouse and reporting a while back. When I started, they had over 10,000 pages of reports available each week.

“It was almost impossible to manage the business because no one knew what to look at first. As a result, many were reading different reports and working at cross purposes.

“To succeed, they needed to prioritise their key metrics and cull hundreds of figures down to only the most important.”

Tincher explains that many customer experience teams make the same mistake - they try to stuff every metric they can think of into their dashboards. This creates a situation where there are lots of numbers, but little actionable data. 

The most effective programmes, he explains, provide more information by including less information: “When people can get the gist of the message in 90 seconds or less, they understand where to focus. If it takes longer than that, you’re going to lose them.”

The content is compelling

“I interviewed a successful CX leader last year and asked him what measures he shares with other departments to show they are making an impact,” says Tincher. “His answer was genius: “Whatever measurement is most important to them.””

Different departments have different needs and concerns, so they need to be addressed differently. Tincher explains that the CX leader he spoke with was using NPS, CSAT and CES data, but he presented it in the context of what was important to each department. 

For example, for finance folks he demonstrated how cost-to-serve went down when they did a specific project. And he showed how a decrease in customer effort also translated into it costing less to serve the customer.

“We normally call this including X (Experience/Behavioral) and O (Operational/Financial) data on a single pane of a customer health dashboard,” says Tincher. “CX leaders who do this succinctly and with specificity grab their partners’ attention by showing what their partners care about. That makes an enormous difference.”

Shawn Phillips also recommends that the data must tell a compelling story.

“That story will connect what customers are doing and how you interact with them to how that makes them feel,” he explains. “Then you tie the changes in sentiment to the financial outcomes that result.

“There are even times you can skip the sentiment and show a causal relationship between operations and finance when you can take advantage of this.”

Phillips points to one of Heart of the Customer’s financial services clients, that ties how long it takes to get a policy approved to the amount of business they will sell in the future.

“They found that if a policy took longer than 14 days to approve, 77% of the financial professionals would never sell another policy,” he says. “They could also show that for each day below 10 days, the financial professional’s lifetime value would increase.”

A reminder once again that the purpose of a dashboard is to Reinforce the Desire to implement change. Therefore, a dashboard that employs a “sentiment sandwich” speaks to everyone involved and drives Desire. 

Phillips shares some components you might use to make your Sentiment Sandwich:

Financial

Sentiment

Operational

Profit/Revenue

NPS, CSAT, CES

Cancelled Flights

Automatic Recurrent Revenue

Confidence

Perfect Orders – On-time with all items

Comp Sales

Enjoyability

First Call Resolution

Customer Lifetime Value

Enthusiasm

Churn

 

The content is kept fresh

If you don’t update the data, it will soon get old, outdated and irrelevant. Some dashboards are built to be updated manually, which may seem perfectly fine because (as with a previous point) it is only dealing with limited information.

But if they aren’t updated automatically then the dashboard can be doomed to ineffectiveness. 

It is shared with the right people

“The purpose of any customer health dashboard is to track and show the progress of the initiatives making an impact,” says Tincher. “But the freshest, most compelling dashboard won’t make any difference if the right people don’t see and understand it.”

He suggests that there are two groups that you need to reach: 

  • The people doing the work, to show them that they are making a difference. “Seeing this impact inspires and motivates people, and lets them know they’re on the right track,” explains Tincher. 

  • The people who fund your initiatives to drive customer-focused change. “Roles and titles vary from organisation to organisation, but this typically includes the c-suite, executives, a leadership team and/or a board,” says Tincher. “Titles don’t matter – what matters is that you show those key stakeholders that your work has impacted financial outcomes. In doing so, you prove the ROI of your team and your efforts, and present a compelling case that improving customer experience is good for business.”

The right tools are being used

There are hundreds (thousands?) of different tools in the marketing and CX space. But there are some in particular that can help to create successful customer health dashboards. 

“Journey analytics with AI allows you to get some great insights based on what has happened across the Sentiment Sandwich,” says Phillips. “This tool finds the connections across all three areas, and more easily and effectively allows you to communicate and create Desire.

“While most dashboards are backward-looking, AI models today allow us to incorporate forward-looking numbers on our dashboards that can show things like expected customer lifetime value or churn risks in the coming months assuming you make no changes.”

Qualtrics Predict iQ and Microsoft Power BI are two that Phillips notes are particularly useful when it comes to building churn models and customer lifetime value models. 

Customer journey mapping software is another tool that is worth considering. Tools that  once just provided a way to visualise the journey, now can show financial, operational and sentiment data through the lens of the customer’s journey.

“Integrating key KPIs allows you to communicate in a language all kinds of different stakeholders understand, but still through the lens of the customer,” says Phillips. 

“Modern journey mapping platforms also allow you to see the results of your interventions. In this way, you can move from a dashboard that shows how things have been to one that shows what you are doing to improve things and highlights the results of your efforts.

“Just remember that the purpose of your dashboard is to produce the desire to drive change in your organisation. Tuning your dashboard so it speaks the language of the key groups in your company make it relevant, and provides a common understanding and vision. Once tuned, you can use AI to blast your message and continually improve your results.”

 

This article was adapted from two pieces that originally appeared on the Heart of the Customer blog: Customer Health Dashboard Tips, and Turn Your Dashboards Up To 11

 

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