Javier Silverio joined Geckoboard as Customer Success Champion in 2014. Based on his experience helping to build, develop and maintain the team’s own dashboards and those of our customers, he shares actionable tips on what makes an excellent Customer Success dashboard and how you can build your own.
This dashboard contains dummy data.
Clarify your audience and purpose
Start with thinking about the purpose of your dashboard. Ask yourself: Who is looking at it and why? The answers will heavily influence the choice of metrics and how you visualize them. The level of detail will differ based on who the dashboard is for (e.g. team manager, individual agents, VP of Customer Support) and if it’s for a specific project.
For example, if you want to create a dashboard for a VP Customer Success to monitor trends and identify issues, the metrics are likely to be high-level and rolled-up across all agents. Visualizations are likely to be more focused on trends using line charts and comparison periods.
Alternatively, if you were building a dashboard to motivate support agents, then metrics would be leaderboards comparing individual support agents to each other. And you’d likely track metrics like tickets resolved and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) score for an individual agent.
Choose a focused set of metrics
If a dashboard is designed to focus an audience on the metrics that matter, then huge volumes of metrics will dilute that focus. Don’t be tempted to add metrics and visualizations just because there’s space.
With an understanding of who your audience is and what their purpose is, you can begin to understand what metrics they can truly impact with their work on a daily basis. For example, there’s no point having a dashboard for a Customer Success team displaying marketing lead volumes because they can’t affect those numbers with their work.
To help identify an initial set of metrics that will be valuable to a customer success audience, we built this free tool that curates a handful of important metrics to focus on. Simply tell it what your main purpose is and it will deliver a handful of relevant metrics including how to calculate them and benchmarks.
There are a couple of other traps to avoid when choosing metrics for your Customer Success dashboard:
Vanity Metrics: Take the time to look into the metrics you’re considering for your dashboard, and make sure each of them will help you make decisions that will affect your customers in a meaningful way. Vanity metrics feel good to look at but they don’t directly help you make decisions that will impact anything meaningful for your customers.
Lagging Indicators: Unless used in conjunction with a leading indicator, stay away from displaying lagging indicators. They’re typically easy to measure but hard to improve or influence when supporting customers on a daily basis. For example, while Churn is an important metric for customer success teams, in most businesses it’s a lagging indicator of all the other great work that’s happening. It’s best to look at this in conjunction with other metrics such as First Response Time and Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) since these are metrics that a team can impact on a daily basis with their work, which will impact churn longer term.
Visualize metrics effectively
Choosing the right data visualizations is a whole blog post on its own and luckily we have one on it over here. We also have a flowchart to help you pick the right ones here. The key is to remove unnecessary distractions and colors, as these are cognitive barriers for the brain. Also, Customer Success teams aren’t generally data analysts so complex bubble charts and visualizations aren’t likely to be the right format.
In general, people simply want to understand the trends and how they’re performing both individually and as a team. The dashboard should be glanceable and not require someone stopping and studying it for several minutes because customer support teams are busy people focused on customers!
Display your dashboard on the wall
Burying important customer success dashboards in browser tabs and email reports creates a barrier to communicating the metrics to the team who need them. We’ve found that displaying the dashboard on a large screen in the office keeps awareness of progress against key metrics high.
This enables us to react quickly to issues and prioritize work to make progress against the metrics that matter. Once you have your initial set of metrics visualized on a dashboard, it also creates an opportunity for the rest of the Customer Success team to give feedback on what is and isn’t useful on the dashboard. (More on the iteration process further down.)
By having the metrics so visible, we can leverage opportunities when they appear. For example, we might have a widget that shows the most popular terms being searched in our Help Center. Do they match our most popular articles? Do we have articles that serve what our customers are searching for?
Having this visibility helps us make sure the terms our customers are searching for either have a proper up-to-date article. Or, if the search refers to a quirk of the product they’re trying to work around or avoid, we can surface this information to the product team and consider fixing the issues or making the experience more straightforward for our customers.
In short, there are three clear uses for a TV dashboard:
- Monitoring: See in real time if there’s anything that requires your immediate attention. For example, a customer just rated ‘bad’ on the CSAT or the number of tickets this morning is higher than usual following a new feature release.
- Motivation and praise: Keep a leaderboard with all your agents, or particular groups of agents, and see who is providing the fastest responses or solving the most tickets.
- Focus: Everyone in the team knows what they’re trying to improve and how they’re performing as a team and/or individually.
Iterate on your dashboard
We make changes to our dashboards at least every quarter, but we also course correct if we notice that a widget we added is not as useful as expected or if we find a better way to measure one of our key metrics.
For example, we rolled out a new Zendesk integration recently that’s enabled us to add a new visualization to track the number of created tickets grouped by topics for a given period. We recently revamped our tagging system so the widget will help us keep track of which topics are creating tickets. This then informs what Help Center articles we need to create and helps our product team understand where important issues are.
This dashboard contains dummy data.
Give it time
Accept that finding the perfect set of metrics will take a bit of time and it’s important to find the right balance when iterating. You want to make sure you’re always tracking what’s most important and adjusting as you go, but remember that swapping KPIs too quickly and too often can make it difficult for the team to keep focused on what’s important.
Remember, there’s no such thing as the perfect dashboard because your goals and your company’s direction change all the time. Building a dashboard is a journey, not a destination.
6 steps to a great Customer Success dashboard
- Understand your audience and what’s important to them.
- Start with a small, focused set of metrics.
- Watch out for vanity metrics and lagging indicators.
- Pick suitable data visualizations for the metrics you’ve chosen.
- Display your dashboard on a wall so everyone can see and act on the metrics.
- Iterate on your dashboard regularly but not so often that people lose focus of what’s important.
This dashboard contains dummy data.