What is your strategy when it comes to client reporting? Are you sending client reports on a regular basis? How are you determining what data to include in your reports? How are you generating your reports? Not carving out time to formalize this process or put enough thought into it can lead to a missed opportunity. Client reports are a powerful tool when it comes to customer retention and maintaining solid relationships. With a little organization, client reporting is a practice you can implement fairly quickly and easily. Let’s explore. What is a client report? Simply put, a client report is a document you send to your clients on a regular basis, showing them important metrics pertaining to their organization or environment. For example, if you’re a managed service provider (MSP) who handles your client’s endpoints, you may report on the status of their networks and devices and what actions you took in a given time period to mitigate any security threats they may have faced. Client reports should be based on fact and should refrain from being censored in any way, so a comprehensive report will show the natural ups and downs that any client-partner relationship faces. A client report should be a relatively quick and easy way for key stakeholders and decision-makers to consume important information and drive business decisions. Most often, it shouldn’t be a long, drawn-out report that takes a lot of time to comb through and analyze (long, in-depth reports make more sense during quarterly business reviews). Why do we need client reporting? It’s a fact that it costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. After you’ve extended efforts to bring on a new client, it’s critical to nurture that relationship and make sure they stick with you for the long term. Creating a relationship based on trust and transparency lays a solid foundation for repeat business. Think about it from the client’s perspective: they’re already paying you, they already know how you work, you already know the environment, and you’ve already established a rapport. It would be a waste of their time to have to vet and hire a new vendor to do the work you’re already doing. So it’s truly in everybody’s best interest to protect the existing relationship and strengthen it over time. One of the most powerful ways to build up trust and transparency is to get in the habit of sending client reports. Especially in a world where we are mostly working remotely (i.e., fewer on-site visits with clients), it’s hard to show all the work that goes into your day-to-day. A report lays out your value for a decision-maker to see. You can almost compare it to an itemized invoice that lists out many functions that your client otherwise would not be privy to. Further, because reports are based on facts and show the good and the bad, they position you as a credible and trusted partner, not just a vendor. You’re giving the full picture of what’s happening versus trying hard to just make yourself look good. Client reports also serve as a sort of audit for decision-makers. Imagine your point of contact leaves your client’s place of employment. All the reports you’ve sent in the past will act as a paper trail of sorts to show the value of your partnership so that the person who is signing your checks doesn’t hesitate to continue signing them. What things should be included in a client report? The specific data and metrics to include in a client report format will vary from client to client. It really depends on your role, what your service level agreement (SLA) outlines, how often you’re sending the report, and what your point of contact cares most about. That being said, here are 10 things that all client reports should include: 1. Benchmarks Whether you’re setting these standards for yourself or your client is doing that for you, include some benchmarks to measure yourself against. This way, your client can easily see how you’re stacking up for that given time period. Plus, they will appreciate that you’re working hard to meet the highest standards and you’re human enough to understand that you may not always be perfect. A good way to determine what benchmarks to set is to use your SLA as a guide. Average Time to Response is a common example - in your SLA, you may have agreed to always respond to tickets within 30 minutes or less. In your reports, you may want to always include your benchmark (30 minutes) versus your actual performance for the given period. 2. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) KPI tracking is such an important part of running a business. KPIs are like a north star that help guide the company along the right path to success. Businesses like MSPs will often have their own internal KPIs they are regularly tracking and external KPIs that help assess the level of service they’re providing their customers. Some external KPIs may even be used to determine if a client is a right fit. Here are examples of KPIs you may be including in your client reports: Average Time to Response Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score Open versus Closed Tickets Net Promoter Score Billable Hours Activity Level/Health Score 3. Metrics Tied to KPIs are metrics, which are trackable bits of data or that will help you piece together how well or not you’re performing. In other words, they are results. There are many different metrics you can be tracking at any given moment across the various departments within your organization. When it comes to including metrics in your client reports, you want to be purposeful about the ones you choose to include. They should be tied to KPIs that clients find important and they should be high-level. Client reports are not typically the time to get too granular with metrics as you want clients to digest the right information as quickly as possible - think quality over quantity here. Depending on the cadence of your report delivery, you’ll want to choose the metrics that best tell the story for your given time frame. For example, in a monthly report you would want to focus on average kill rate percentage versus showing tickets opened today. 4. Goals The practice of goal-setting is good for everyone to engage in - at the individual level and organizational level, on a personal level and a professional level, for the short term and the long term, and so on. Showing clients how you’re setting and tracking against goals helps to reinforce that foundation of trust you are building your relationship upon. You and your clients may even be coming up with goals together. In your client reports, you can show progress of your goals using a simple chart or graph just as a visual reminder of where you stand. By the way, benchmarks and goals can get confused with one another, but think of goals as the desired end result and benchmarks as the milestones you have to hit to reach your goals. 5. Budget There are two important areas to consider when it comes to communicating about budget in your client reports: dollars and hours. You want to show clients how their forecasted budget is tracking against projects completed or in progress. To put it simply, show them how you’re stretching their budgets to cover the most amount of work. In addition, you’ll want to make sure everything is on track in terms of budgeted hours. Are your techs billing hours correctly? Are there any issues you need to point out to your clients? How can you mitigate any time issues before it starts impacting your client negatively? These are topics you should be touching upon on an ongoing basis. 6. Revenue If you’re involved in your client’s finances in any way, data pertaining to revenue MUST be included in each of your client reports. As an MSP, if you’re managing your client’s endpoints, you may want to demonstrate how keeping warranties, patches, and machines up to date makes a positive financial impact over time. Anything impacting cash flow or profitability is going to be high on the list of priorities for clients, so take care and be precise when reporting on these numbers. 7. ROI Tracking Communicating on ROI is a big topic when it comes to nurturing that client relationship. Decision makers and key contacts are going to be really interested in how their investment in you will benefit them. This is closely tied to revenue reporting. If you can demonstrate how your client’s investments can result in big gains or cost savings or measurable business growth, you’re going to put yourself in a great position to continue earning their business. 8. Areas of Improvement Nobody does everything right 100% of the time. Whether you are sending daily, weekly, or monthly reports, it’s a good idea to highlight areas where you didn’t perform to the standards you would have liked, include context as to why performance was lagging, and identify solutions to prevent subpar performance in the future. 9. Summary of Events Your clients may not be aware of the scale of work that goes into protecting their environment. If you are out of sight, what you are doing may be out of mind for them. Including a summary of events that you’ve covered (most likely without their awareness) will help them understand how proactive you are and how much time and effort goes into keeping their businesses running smoothly. 10. Reporting the Good and the Bad We’ve said it before but it bears repeating itself over and over again: you can’t only report on the wins. When it comes to client reporting, it pays to be fully transparent all of the time. Mistakes happen, things fall through the cracks, and lessons are learned. Clients will be especially understanding of this if you don’t censor anything from them and if you’re constantly working on ways to course correct in the future. Even better, if an error occurred and you fixed it before your client noticed or before your report was due, including it in your report and outlining what was done to mitigate the error will show how valuable it is to have you as a partner. By doing this, you show that you’re not going to your clients with problems. You’re going to them with solutions. The right client reporting tool We’ve heard of many people not being consistent with client reporting simply because they take too much time to pull together. If you are toggling between many tools, pulling data off of each tool, inputting that data into an Excel spreadsheet, and then spending hours analyzing that data to draw conclusions, you could be eating into many valuable hours of your time. With an automated client reporting system like BrightGauge, you win that time back and you get powerful reports out to your clients whenever you want. Some of our partners have said that our client reporting tool has saved them 8-10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks. With BrightGauge, you’ll get pre-built report templates that you can quickly populate with your client’s information, making it very easy to get started right out-of-the box. Even if you build reports from scratch, you can set them to automatically send out on the dates and times you choose, so you can rest assured that your client will get that report delivered to their inbox on a regular basis. For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge client reporting system and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.
How many software programs do you use a day? From Gmail and Microsoft suites to media players, we’re all pretty much hooked on them. Most of what we do requires some type of program. It’s just a part of life. The status quo. C’est la vie. So naturally, it makes sense that we also use software for everything at work. And something that goes hand-in-hand with all these technologies is analytics dashboards. They are the starting point of any business’ roadmap for profitability and growth. When it comes to dashboard software, you know that in theory, they are supposed to lead to sound decision making. But which factors should you consider to make sure you’re purchasing the right one? Quick Links What Are Dashboard Platforms? Why Are Dashboards Important for Your Business? Benefits of Dashboard Software 7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Dashboard Software for Your Business Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools What Are Dashboard Platforms? Dashboards provide snapshots of business intelligence — such as key performance indicators and metrics — all in one centralized location. They are often updated in real time and can be customized to take into account several factors: The subject matter you’re tracking All related information Displayed by relevance Your preferred method of reading data (line graphs, pie charts, etc…) Why Are Dashboards Important for Your Business? Dashboards are important because they allow users to examine the performance of their business at a glance — all on one single screen. They’re also displayed in easy-to-understand ways. Being able to do so can help you: Identify whether you’re on track to hit your targets Identify any anomalies in your processes Identify risks Monitor day-to-day activities Ensure everyone’s on the same page Benefits of Dashboard Software Once you make it a standard business practice to study dashboards, you’ll soon discover many advantages: Easy to Read Effective dashboards are visually appealing and easy to read, regardless of whether you have any experience as a data analyst. This way, you can get to work as soon as you identify any issues instead of spending an eternity trying to figure out what it all means. Transparency Dashboards let you see exactly what’s going on in a particular area of business. Numbers don’t lie, and seeing them right in front of you lets you and your team know whether there are any issues and work on ways to resolve them. Identify Trends By looking at analytics on older dashboards, you can notice historical trends, which you can then compare with the current ones. You can also notice customer hurdles, such as when website visitors tend to leave when they reach a specific page, or a decrease in sales during a specific time of the year. This is crucial to improve on such deficiencies. Business Monitoring You can build a dashboard to monitor process efficiencies, team productivity, inventory, sales, or anything else that’s relevant to your business. Need to hit daily targets? Ensure that a certain number of tasks are completed? Check on your team’s workload capacity? All of this becomes easily identifiable with the right dashboard. Optimize Performance Once you’ve identified what’s not working, you’ll know exactly how to move forward to fix it. Even if you have to do A/B testing on your marketing campaigns, hire more people, or ramp up your cybersecurity, these trial-and-error actions are still pushing you towards finding something that works. 7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Dashboard Software for Your Business Ok. So dashboard software is extremely useful. But they’re not all created equal. When deciding on which one to purchase, consider the following factors: 1. Integrations Nothing in any business works in silos, so the ability to integrate with other tools you currently use is essential in finding the right one. BrightGauge dashboards integrate with 40+ tools that you're already using. We are also part of the ConnectWise family, and BrightGauge integrates with some of its most popular tools used by managed service providers (MSPs), such as Manage, Automate, and Sell. 2. Understands Human Cognition There’s only so much data the brain can process at once — and it does so most effectively with images. While this is why dashboards are the most effective way of communicating data, you still want to ensure you have visuals with a simple structure. At the end of the day, most people have the capacity to remember 5-9 things at the same time. 3. Customization Not everyone reads data the same way. You want software that allows you to choose how to view information. For example, clients may prefer various visualization formats, like graphs, charts, and boards. You also want features that allow you to adjust sizes, fonts, colors, and styles, and provide the option to deliver content in a way that matches a user’s job role. This way, each person can only access the data that is most relevant to their responsibilities. 4. Collaboration Some dashboards limit the number of users who can access it — or the number of people who can work on it simultaneously. Depending on your specific needs, you’ll want to verify whether a software enables multiple departments to work together, or if you’ll have the ability to share the data with external users 5. User Experience User experience (UX) is crucial with any type of software. Your dashboards should be easy to navigate and offer clear data visualization. Another important feature to look for is the ability to choose to show only the most relevant data points specific to different end users. And finally, you want a dashboard that explains what data means — whether by labeling or verbal descriptions. 6. Automated Refreshing If you’re creating operational dashboards or displaying any other information that’s time-sensitive, you want to see information displayed in real time or in near real time. This is where automated or scheduled refreshing can help streamline your reporting – no more manual updates and long waiting periods to collect your data. Simply set a schedule to refresh your dashboard at specific intervals. For example, if you have a weekly sales meeting every Friday afternoon, schedule automated refreshing for Friday mornings. 7. Automated Reports Sometimes, you have to wait a long time before you’re able to compile all of your data and start looking for trends. This is tedious and extremely time-consuming. Therefore, you want to look for software that automatically gauges daily, weekly, or monthly pictures of your metrics; then lay them side by side. This allows you to identify noteworthy patterns much sooner. Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools Creating effective dashboards doesn’t have to be as time consuming as it sounds. With the right tools, like BrightGauge, you get powerful reports out to your clients whenever you want. Some of our partners have reported that our tools have saved them 8-10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks — or on doing some fun stuff with their loved ones after a long day at work. For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge dashboard technologies and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.
Clients are the bloodline of your business. You exist because of them. Your team works because of them. You set quarterly goals because of them. However, this doesn’t mean that they fully know everything that goes on behind the scenes at your company. And, while they may not need to know everything, they do need to know what’s going on with their account. This is where client facing dashboards come in really handy. So sit back and read about best practices for these types of dashboards, ‘cause it’ll make the process a lot easier for everyone involved. Quick Links What Is a Client Facing Dashboard? Why Are Client Dashboards Important? Dashboard Design Best Practices (+Examples) 5 Things to Consider When Creating Client Facing Dashboards Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools What Is a Client Facing Dashboard? As the name states, a client facing dashboard is an online document with business intelligence in which you add your B2B client as a viewer. They can then create an account with their own login credentials. However, they will only have access to see the information that’s displayed. They typically don’t have any additional permissions. Why Are Client Dashboards Important? Client facing dashboards are important because communication is crucial to build long-lasting relationships with your clients. Not only do they foster transparency, they also showcase elements of your work that they may not have been familiar with — yet are necessary for them to conduct their business. Specific examples of what you can use these dashboards for include: Marketing campaign performance Project timelines Cybersecurity trends and risks Depending on the purpose of the dashboard, they may also make it a lot easier for your team to handle their workload, since customers would be able to log in to check data instead of having to regularly call in. This is the kind of interaction that provides tangible value and turns existing clients into repeat customers. Dashboard Design Best Practices (+ Examples) Ok. So client dashboards aren’t really the eighth world wonder — but they can be if you are mindful of industry best practices. 1. Keep It Simple The single biggest piece of advice that we give to clients when setting up their BrightGauge dashboard is to keep it simple. While it might be tempting to load every important metric into a dashboard, it is best to focus on only the most essential information. We advocate for a 5-second snapshot rule. At a glance, your BrightGauge dashboard should let you know where attention is needed in 5-seconds or less. By placing only the most important and relevant gauges on one dashboard, you’ll quickly have a better understanding of where you stand. However, keeping it simple doesn’t mean you need access to less data. There are likely many data points that you need to analyze to gain a complete picture. When you need more data, you can use the rotate feature to view additional gauges that are relevant to your dashboard. Remember, you are never limited to a single dashboard, so try to group metrics with each other based on relevance. 2. Keep the Viewer in Mind When deciding which gauges to include on your dashboard, consider who will be using the dashboard most often. What role does this dashboard viewer cover? What metrics will they need to do their job? Which metrics won’t be needed so often? Work directly with your teams to determine which metrics they access most in their daily work, and include those gauges on your main dashboard for that specific role. As for deciding the number of gauges to include on a dashboard, we recommend choosing seven. Why seven specifically? We call all the way back to a study from the 1950s that showed that seven objects was the average capacity for the brain's working memory. Providing more metrics might provide more information initially, but will they retain that information? Don’t overwhelm your teams with a page full of numbers. Instead, focus on keeping relevant information together and try not to exceed seven gauges on any single dashboard. 3. Choose the Right Gauge At BrightGauge, we know each of our users are unique, with different likes and preferred styles. For that reason, we offer several different gauges (e.g. charts or diagrams) to choose from. The gauge style that you choose should be influenced by the metric that the gauge will be displaying. Remember that certain gauge styles lend themselves well to certain types of metrics. For example, here's a look at the same Server Patch Status data, but shown as a pie chart, bar chart, and a table: Choosing the wrong display style can misrepresent the data in the eyes of the viewer. Consider what you want to learn from each specific metric. For instance, a pie chart wouldn’t be a wise choice for comparing daily support ticket metrics among dozens of service reps as it would be jumbled and difficult to read. Selecting the right gauge type is important for interpreting and analyzing data, but if you pick a style now and decide to change it later, you can easily update your choice with a couple of clicks. 4. Design Logically The English language and most other modern languages read from left to right. Most of us have been reading from left to right since we started elementary school. Our brains are wired to seek out information in that way. You can see this concept reflected in eye-tracking studies, where “F” patterns seem to dominate digital reading patterns. Most people will read through digital information the same way that they would a book — from left to right, all the way down the page. So, design your dashboard with these things in mind. Put the metric that you would like to read first at the top, left-hand side of your dashboard. Place other metrics in order of importance from left to right, moving down the page. 5. Review Regularly The beauty of a BrightGauge dashboard is that nothing is ever set in stone. You can change the layout of any dashboard at any time. Are you finding that you are not paying much attention to a specific gauge? Remove it and replace it with a more useful one. Have your metrics priorities changed? Shuffle your gauges around to reflect your most important metrics. Every few months, you should re-evaluate your current gauge layout and determine if it’s in line with your priorities. Don’t be afraid to try out new things! If you find that a decision isn’t working for you, you can always revert to your previous design. 5 Things to Consider When Creating Client Facing Dashboards So now that we’ve gone over some examples, there are a few other things you want to take into account when creating client facing dashboards: 1. Your Audience Who’s reviewing the dashboards? Because they will look very different if you’re preparing them for a data analyst or for a stakeholder. Make it as easy as possible for them to navigate and understand the information; and only go into details if their job role requires them to be aware of additional information. 2. Customization Always ask your clients about their preferences. What do they want to see first? What type of chart or graph makes it easier for them to understand data? What’s their preferred layout? Do they want specific colors in the dashboard legends? The customer is the star. Build the dashboard around them. 3. Interactive Elements While static reporting can be useful, interactive features can be more efficient, since they can allow users to do actions such as filter, compare, link data from spreadsheets, and see real-time updates. This makes it a lot easier for customers to fully visualize data within context. It also saves them the time it would take to update everything manually. 4. Which KPIs to Track Include the most critical data points to achieve your client’s goals. This will vary depending on the type of dashboard you’re creating. For example, if your customer wants to track their sales cycles, KPIs to include may be the number of leads in the pipeline, cycle length, customer acquisition costs, and revenue. Don’t go too crazy throwing in everything and the sink. You can always create additional dashboards if the main subject branches too much. 5. Integrations Every single one of your customers is already using different softwares to help them run their business. Use dashboards that integrate well with the tools they’re already using. Let’s take this moment to point out that BrightGauge dashboards integrate with over 40 software platforms and it’s part of the ConnectWise ecosystem. Choosing the Right Dashboard Tools Creating effective dashboards doesn’t have to be as time consuming as it sounds. With the right tools, like BrightGauge, you get powerful reports out to your clients whenever you want. Some of our partners have reported that our tools have saved them 8-10 hours per week, which is time they can now spend focusing on revenue-generating tasks — or on doing some fun stuff with their loved ones after a long day at work. For an in-depth look at the BrightGauge dashboard technologies and other features, please contact us so we can set you up with a live demo.