CFO World

How to: 7 steps to building the ultimate CX dashboard

We talk to customer experience experts to find out the best practices to achieve great CX dashboard architecture


Putting customer experience insights into the hands of your marketing team can add significant value to the marketing mix. But without the right foresight, these reporting platforms can easily end up an ineffective, confused or unhelpful mess.

We speak to marketing experts and CX thought leaders to find out what makes the ultimate CX dashboard and what to avoid at all costs.

1. Start with a blueprint and know your audience

In order to make the CX dashboard your ultimate blueprint, begin with the end in mind and design backwards, InMoment senior director of CX strategy, Andrew Park, tells CMO.

“Think about what you need to accomplish and what business outcomes you are trying to influence,” he says. “Then consider what are the key ingredients and elements of that outcome and associated metrics and data.

“You then need to make it relevant and actionable, designing the right kind of dashboard for the right purpose, for the right audience or persona, with the right information that ties closely to business outcomes.”

In order to make the dashboard actionable, Park suggests taking time to truly understand what the audience needs to accomplish and ‘purpose build’ the dashboard accordingly.  

“For CMOs, this means understanding brand sentiment and being alerted to brand trends and opportunities,” he says. “Meanwhile, location managers need coaching opportunities, drivers that impact the individual customer experience and prescriptive recommendations on what to work on plus diagnose what is broken and how to fix it.”  

RXP national practice manager, Stephen Wayne, suggests profiling your audience early via a series of workshops.  

“The output of the workshops should be a collection of user personas with a mapping to the data they are interested in, the grain of that data and latency of the data,” he explains. “For example, an executive persona may only be interested in year-to-date figures, whereas a product manager may require daily sales figures. “Also, ensure feedback channels are in place with the stakeholders while building the dashboards to allow incremental improvement throughout the lifecycle of the dashboard.”  

2. Make the dashboard relevant to your customer journey

Experts agree there’s no ‘one-size fits all solution’ when it comes to building a dashboard as different audiences and personas will be interested in different things.

“Each dashboard should be specific enough so the end user gets the right information that allows them to effectively do their job,” Park says. “Designing for journeys also allows the content to be relevant to journey owners.”

Lavender head of technology, Clint Bauer, says it is extremely important to tailor your dashboard to different types of audiences.

“Use the available technologies to your advantage and relate different views, with different level of details for different audiences,” he recommends. “Whether it is marketing managers, customer strategists, sales people or the CMO, they all look for different measures and metrics. Involve your audience as early as possible in the process, even at the wire-framing stage.”

Customer-centric marketers also need to ensure the CX dashboard measures and reports the quality of customers’ experience with brand, Bauer says.

“Make sure the metrics cover every stage of your customer journey,” he adds. “These measures should be a close manifestation of what your customer is experiencing and how their collective experiences could potentially impact the perception your brand. It’s only then that you can have a unified goal – or set of goals – that result in improved (and often unobserved) customer happiness.”

When it comes to integrating the dashboard better with the customer journey, The Core Agency CX director, Rob Kain, says having relevant consumer sentiment and metrics by segment allows you to drive different strategies.

“Each stage of the customer journey has usually been mapped out and this data will help drive future campaigns, promotions or even channel decisions,” he says.

3. Show the link to business outcomes  

It is also important the CX dashboard is aligned with the overall business strategy and linked closely with business outcomes.

“In retail, it’s a common theme that ‘what gets measured gets done’. However, it needs to be information that drives the business forward and offers real insight allowing the business to make informed decisions,” Kain says. “There’s a big difference from ‘reporting’ to ‘insight’.

“In agile retail organisations, this business insight can turn a campaign on its head and overtime inform the long-term strategy.”

Read more: Why so many organisations keep getting NPS wrong

Read more: Using AI to enable a more human understanding of voice of customer data

Once you’ve consulted with business stakeholders and the dashboard is aligned with the strategy and customer journeys, you then need to make sure business representatives are used in testing the platform.

“Feedback and consultation at this stage is so important for the platform success and the confidence the business has in it,” Kain says. “Also vital to any new reporting system is the training that supports it.  I’ve been lucky enough to work with teams who have advocated the CX dashboard and provided comprehensive training support.

“If you are in an organisation with a small HR team, you need to prepare several training sessions – usually over lunch – where you walk the business users through the dashboard and allow them time to road test it.”

4. Keep a close eye on performance management and data

According to Wayne, one of the key things to avoid is publishing poor quality data. Ensuring the dashboard includes sufficient annotation and labelling about the metrics displayed, the data source and when the data was last refreshed, is another vital ingredient. “You need to ensure the data being exposed is of good, measurable quality and can stand up under scrutiny,” he says. “Nothing turns people off dashboards more than someone pointing at it and saying, ‘That number’s not right’.”

At the same time, be wary of using data tables, as traditional reporting techniques often include data stored in tables within a dashboard so the end user can see the lowest level of detail available.

“Often, if investigation into a data anomaly is required, the raw data is then copied out into Excel for further analysis,” Wayne continues. “This approach creates a copy of the data and additional work to analyse it outside the dashboard environment.

“Wherever possible, embed all supporting data through the rich data visualisation experience, or link to another dashboard with the additional detail. This is a much more efficient and immersive approach that does not create duplicate copies of data and allows the user to retain key filters.”

Park points out it can be difficult to tie data together if it resides in siloed data sets and if groups are unwilling to share. Ensuring you have access to the right data that allows you to show how customer experience metrics impact the business outcomes is a key part of the process.  

For instance, with a multi-unit hospitality brand, InMoment built a predictive sales dashboard to meet revenue targets, but it also predicts which locations are likely to miss their sales target each month, with recommendations on how to correct the issue.

“Predictive analysis is the key to being able to do this in a pre-emptive way,” Park says. “Marketers can't just rely on looking at historical trends. Predictive tactics allow you to be proactive and impact the business.”

When it comes to performance management, Wayne advises constantly monitoring the performance of dashboards and fully understanding what is contributing to the response times.

“Dashboards should respond to end user interactions within a few seconds when published,” he says. “If you dashboard tool has a server component, leverage this to increase performance and user experience. Dashboard tools usually have a Performance Recorder tool which provides timings for every task executed.”

Up next: 3 more ways to build the ultimate customer experience dashboard

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5. Don’t turn all metrics into targets

For Forrester senior analyst, Tom Champion, any measurement program should use a mix of perception-based, performance-based and outcome-based metrics.  

“However, for the sake of a dashboard with an audience of mixed metrics-literacy, a degree of editing needs to take place with a focus on simplicity and visualisation,” he says. “It should be an employee-centric approach to dashboard design.”  

But if you’re going to turn metrics into targets, Champion advises proceeding with caution. As soon as targets or comparisons are applied, it changes the conversation around metrics.  

“It comes back to objectives and also culture,” he says. “Typically, your audience needs to understand a metric, buy into it, know their connection to it, and know how they can have an impact on it, before targets are applied. As soon as targets or comparisons are applied, it changes the conversation around metrics.  

“For key metrics, clear targets are critical so people know what to work towards and where priorities lie – but there are sensitives around timing and context which people often overlook.”  

Park highlights the important of looking at targets around various CX metrics if you want to remain agile and customer-centric.

“It’s better not to introduce the targets too soon, or you run the risk of driving the wrong behaviour, people cutting corners and just focusing too much on hitting a number, as opposed to truly adopting a customer-centric culture within the organisation,” he adds.  

Kain agrees using the dashboard as a way to measure targets can sometimes defeat the purpose and be counterproductive to good CX.

“The role of the CX dashboard should primarily be to allow the business to make informed decisions based on real time consumer behaviour and insight – positive or negative,” he says. “If there’s negative insight or feedback, you need this to change business behaviour.”

According to Bauer, some measures could and should be treated as operational targets. “Targets, mostly operational in nature, should be selected by the senior leadership and handed to frontline teams,” he says. “This is to ensure alignment between top-line strategy, perception-based measures and operation KPIs. Typically, the ratio of operational KPIs to perception-based metrics would increase as the dashboards are tailored for tactical teams.”

6. Utility before beauty

Another thing to consider when building a dashboard is utility before beauty, Temple & Webster CMO, Sven Lindell, says.

“Even though our brand is about creating beautiful experiences, it all has to do with the user at the end of the day,” he says. “There’s no use having a dynamic dashboard if it lacks the data required to generate meaningful insights.”

Rather than putting time in to ‘make it look pretty’, Lindell recommends marketers take a step back and device that one, big important number the team all needs to focus on.

“I don’t think that’s done enough when building the reporting suite,” he says. “So shout that important link from the top, make it most prominent and explain why it’s important. And the bigger the number or display, the more likely your eyes will be drawn to it and the more important you place on that metrics as well.

“But at the same time, make sure the team is completely on-board with the metrics you are using to calculate what you are doing and explain how you actually come to those metrics – and why it is important to the team and the business.”

Identifying the primary purpose and key objectives the dashboard is trying to address has a major impact on content and design, Champion continues.

“For example, if your dashboard is trying to raise awareness, your dashboard needs to stand out, use pictures, strike conversations with almost clickbait content,” he says. “Whereas, if your objective is to engrain accountability, then you need to make sure people’s names are called out loud and proud.

“Again, if your objective is to tell your story of progress to encourage resilience, you’ll have a strong focus on historical comparisons – tracking the progress of metrics over years, and using a good mix of positive and constructively negative verbatims. This is all logical but people overlook the link between design and objective.”

RXP’s Wayne also suggests keeping the design functional and simple, ensuring each dashboard can covey a clear message about the data it is displaying. “Limit the number of colours to a minimum and keep them consistent throughout all dashboards,” he says. “Also limit the number of worksheets within a dashboard to as low as possible and apply consistently across all pages of the dashboard. For example, have only a maximum of six worksheets per dashboard with one or two few quick filters.”

7. Take accountability

Above all, taking accountability for customer experience is one of the critical factors to ensure not just the CX dashboard remains relevant and actionable, but that the overall business starts to think about the customer and not focus only on business efficiencies, founder and strategy director of CX agency VPB Orange, Harlan Kennedy, says.

“Ultimately, it’s the CXO’s job to be responsible for the way customers feel about their interactions with the company,” he says. “This creates a natural [and desirable] tension with others in the company who may be focused on efficiencies.  

“Perception-based metrics are ultimately the most meaningful, because they are an accurate reflection of the way a customer feels, and the way that they will talk about their interactions with other perspective customers. Performance-based metrics tell us how those perceptions are formed. The ones that correlate most closely with perception-based metrics should be prioritised over those that don’t.”  

According to Kennedy, many CXOs think of themselves as fixers, but in reality they are in the business of shifting perceptions of the customer as well as company employees.  

“They need to think about how to turn customers into advocates, and advocates into rabid fans,” he says. “How do they create a customer-focused culture that employees buy into and are rewarded for embracing? So when it comes to the dashboard, maybe the question should be: Do I have the information I need to move people on that journey to being a die-hard fan of this brand?  

“It strikes me that most organisations would be well-served identifying a handful of overlapping KPIs between the CXO and CMO. Doing so would create a shared accountability and a more holistic approach to shaping a relevant and motivating customer journey and experience.”    
 

Forrester’s 10 critical questions to ask before building a CX dashboard:

  • Who is your audience? Getting clear on who is meant to be using it, ‘everyone’ is not good enough.
  • When would they use it and how often? Dashboard fatigue is a real thing, so how will this dashboard be used to improve the employee experience amid all the other noise?
  • Do you need a dedicated dashboard? Or should you start by embedding CX gauges in already-adopted interfaces?
  • What is the purpose? Consider what the key objective that this dashboard is seeking to address and link it to key business outcomes.
  • What is the scope of the dashboard? And is it journey-based or functional?
  • Are you going for breadth or depth? In deciding the balance of content, you should choose between showing the headlines vs. how far your drill down to team based or individual based detail.
  • What kind of point of view does you dashboard bring?
  • Will your dashboard be something exploratory? Painting a 3D picture of the customer to get people engaged so they think a bit differently
  • Will it be prescriptive? Or does it dictate what the audience should do next?
  • Is it relevant to the customer journey? If the organisation already has established customer journeys, then that’s a great opportunity to leverage this asset for the sake of a dashboard. 

Source: Forrester’s senior analyst, Tom Champion  

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