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Jennifer Horne Sr. Digital Marketing Coordinator @iDashboards

Jennifer Horne handles SEO, PPC, content and digital marketing for iDashboards. She has won multiple 30 Rock trivia competitions, makes a mean green curry, and loves living in Detroit.

Customer Insights | Dashboards and Data Viz

Dashboards for Your Customers: They’re Not Just for Internal Use

You can’t bore your clients into better understanding. It’s important to get data to your clients when they need it, and it’s important to put data into a format that is easily understood by your client and moves them toward positive action. Accountants, consultants, analysts and Fortune 500 clients are having great success by reporting to their clients with interactive dashboards.

Building Client Dashboards

dashboards for customers | customized client dashboards for external reporting

Dashboards accomplish many things, but the most important factor of a successful dashboard is this: Deploying data to clients quickly, and in a way that’s easy to understand. Here are a few guiding principles to help you build dashboards that your clients will love:

  • Keep the data custom. This goes beyond the information you present. Obviously, each client dashboard will contain different numbers, but the data sets your dashboard reports display should be unique, too. This means understanding your customer’s goals, and the best way to communicate them. With dashboards, you can discover what information is most important to your client and deliver it effectively.
  • Make complex data sets easy to understand. Numbers aren’t for everyone, but data visualization is. When you use a dashboard to give clients the information they want, you have a unique opportunity to display highly complex sets of data in a single, easy-to-absorb window. This way, your clients can focus on key performance indicators (KPIs) instead wasting time trying to interpret complicated Excel spreadsheets.
  • Give clients real-time data. What’s better than timely reports? The answer is simple: real-time data. Unlike traditional Excel reporting, which often lacks the user-friendliness of a visualized data, dashboards can update as often – or infrequently – as you like. This means your clients can access data when they need it the most, without any delay and on virtually any device.

Delivering ROI: Putting Client Dashboards to Work

ROI dashboards for customers

Here’s how a few iDashboards customers have found success using client dashboards.

  • A distributor of technology products had been sending weekly reports to its largest 2,000+ customers regarding their purchases; however, their customers were drowning in the tabulated data contained in these reports. The company realized their customers would be better served with insightful dashboards displaying data graphically, with drilldown options and visual analytics. They made the switch, and built a single set of dashboards that could be customized (by using the “filter by user” function) for their customers to access live from any device.
  • A large travel-related services organization had been repo rting travel spend to thousands of accounts in massive spreadsheets that failed to tell the most important story: How much money were they saving the client? These reports provided travel spend aggregated by department, location and region, all broken into various categories – air, hotel, cab, auto-rental, meals and entertainment. One of their client managers decided to break the status quo by championing a set of dashboards for his clients, so they could visualize the value of their relationship. The manager worked with iDashboards to deliver dashboards to his clients in about a week, focusing primarily on the cost savings provided by the vendor. When rolled out at a client meeting, the manager and his team got a standing ovation. The initiative was so successful that other client executives have since persuaded their leadership to adopt customer-facing dashboards for other key accounts.
  • An accounting firm was looking for a meaningful way to report financial data to their clients. They wanted full mobility so their clients could grab a dashboard on their iPad, as well as the ability to customize dashboards for specific clients. They used iDashboards to build a “suite” of dashboards that are standardized (again using “filter by user”), but retain complete flexibility to create custom dashboards for clients as needed.

It’s time to stop reporting data like it’s 80’s

Excel is outdated | old computer reporting data

Credit: Microsoft Sweden

Did you know Ronald Reagan was President when Excel was introduced? It’s 2017. Why would you still be reporting in Excel like it’s 1985? Whether you’re a single consultant or a Fortune 100 company, you probably share the same issue as the clients mentioned above: How do we get data to our customers in a meaningful and insightful way?

Interestingly, in all the examples above, there were already stellar IT staff and meaningful reporting. When it came to sharing information with their clients, however, IT couldn’t make the changes necessary on their own. In each case, it was someone outside of IT who became the champion of getting data into a format that was more meaningful to the client.

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes! Don’t drown them with data. Click To Tweet

It shouldn’t take much imagination to put yourself into your customer’s shoes, because we are all customers of other products and services. If you’re sending reports and spreadsheets jampacked with data, are your clients finding them overwhelming and of little value? Every customer needs something that will deliver intelligence and insight into the products and services they buy, and you should be providing that to them.

Wouldn’t it be nice if each of your vendors were to take the initiative to add value to the data they are collecting and present it in a graphical dashboard with quick insights? If your company is reporting back to your clients, wouldn’t it benefit them (and you) to provide that reporting in a way that is meaningful and creates positive action? Dashboards don’t just have to be for internal use – they can change the way you communicate with your clients.

Click here to see how dashboards can solve data challenges in every industry!

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