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3 Best Practices for Creating Dashboards That Tell a Dynamic Story

Maximize the Effectiveness of Your Dashboards

Fighting for the attention of our colleagues and executives is hard, let alone, having the ability to inspire them to think differently or make necessary changes is even harder. As experience management practitioners you need to find ways to connect emotionally, and an important part of your role is to influence stakeholders.

The best way to do this is to tell a story, we recommend you begin every presentation, or develop every dashboard with a customer or employee in mind.

In this blog, we will give you the tools to step back and identify how to build your stories in your dashboards and what you should think about as you get started or as you rework your experience management dashboards to tell a more dynamic story.

Simple dashboards become enriched when storytelling is incorporated, allowing readers to analyze customer feedback quickly and be alerted to areas of priority that need immediate attention. The ultimate goal of every dashboard is to allow its audience to locate the sources of pain points within 1 to 2 clicks as they happen, not 4 weeks later in a monthly report.

1. Design the Dashboard for the Audience

A dashboard is rendered useless when it is not designed with an end user in mind. When designing a dashboard, make sure you answer two fundamental questions:

  • Who will be using the dashboard?
  • What is this end user trying to achieve?

It is always best to run a co-design workshop with the end users to discuss their needs and priorities. A co-design workshop also allows everyone to voice their opinion and more importantly, justify it. The collaboration will lead to an agreement of the goals and objectives before you begin discussing how to solve those needs by different chart types.

Follow these four steps:

  1. Discuss audience needs.
  2. Prioritize audience needs.
  3. Agree on metric calculations, time intervals.
  4. Discuss chart types to meet needs.

2. Design the Dashboard to Inform the User

An effective dashboard is designed to guide the user, not overload the user with data. Consider grouping similar charts together.

For example, if a big number chart is used to show NPS, then place the NPS trend chart next to it, not half-way down the dashboard. This helps a user understand where the business is and where it has come from.

Follow this design structure:

  • Main KPI – Where are we? How has our performance changed over time?
  • Main KPI & Main Segment – Who/what should we focus on?
  • Sub KPIs – What is contributing to our core metric?
  • High Level Text Analytics – What our customers telling us overall?
  • Verbatim – What are our customers actually saying about their experience?
  • Deep Analysis – Splitting KPIs up by pre-pop data. There is also no need to fit all charts onto one page. A navigation menu is a great way to guide a user throughout a dashboard by linking the user to additional pages.

3. Design the Dashboard to Tell a Story

The role of a dashboard is to direct user attention so they can quickly locate customer insights.

Here are eight ways to focus attention:

  1. Remove chart clutter: Remove anything that does not contribute to insights – grid lines, axis titles, counts, axis.
  2. Use action language for chart titles: Title a chart to highlight the action you want the reader to take. For example, a chart showing negative text analytics categories should be titled ‘Areas we need to focus on,’ instead of “Topics.”
  3. Colors: Colors direct a user’s eye. Use low shade colors throughout the dashboard and pick a color palette to be consistent across all dashboards. Use conditional formatting selectively to highlight key areas.
  4. White space: Place white space between charts to make the dashboard look and feel less cluttered. This helps users find their insights quicker.
  5. Descriptive widgets: Create descriptive widgets above charts so a user knows how a score is calculated and what the chart is showing.
  6. Consistency: Keep the same intervals, metric calculations and colors consistent so users from different departments can view multiple dashboards without confusion.
  7. Financial impact: To help readers understand the financial impact of poor customer experience, it is best practice to show satisfaction scores split by customer financial information, such as lifetime value. It is more powerful to show that 60% of customers that spend $10 million annually would not recommend our business.
  8. Text Analytics Emotions: Probably the most under-utilized aspect of any dashboard is using text analytics and emotional analysis. People are great at determining what customers are saying, but not so good at quickly determining what has changed. A good way to counter this is to plot the percentage of negative sentiment per text analytics over time. This indicates to the reader if negative sentiment is increasing.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Know your audience. The dashboard needs to be crafted to the people viewing it and using the information.
  2. Harness the power of emotional storytelling. Make sure that your dashboards inspire, motivate, and influence.
  3. Don’t forget your data. Ensure that your dashboards represent the most important findings in your data.

At MaritzCX, we’ve been in the experience management industry for years and have identified a number of best practices for professionals looking to make changes in their organizations to create better experiences for their customers, employees or patients.

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