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Dashboards everywhere!

Release Date: July 28, 2020

The concept of dashboards is probably nothing new to customer experience pros. We use them to help communicate data like NPS and Loyalty. But is your dashboard up to snuff? Is it showing you the data you really need and is it organized in a way that your employees or colleagues can glean from it the right information? Host Steve Walker welcomes data reporting expert Katie Hatch from Walker to discuss some key best practices in making certain your dashboards communicate the data you need.

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Steve:
Professionals and customer experience have to deal with a ton of data. I mean a ton of data. So how do we distill that information into something we can use?

Katie:
Gone are the days of having to print out a whole bunch of PowerPoint reports and deliver them. And even now, we don't have to email everyone a specific report. Now they can go into these dashboards. We can set them up that anybody can go in at any time, that, you know, if you want him to be able to see results and "boom," it takes him to a page and there's everything they would want to know.

Steve:
Let's talk about dashboards on this episode of The CX Leader Podcast.

Announcer:
The CX Leader Podcast with Steve Walker is produced by Walker, an experience management firm that helps our clients accelerate their XM success. You can find out more at walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Hello, everyone. I'm Steve Walker, hosts of The CX Leader Podcast and thank you for listening. On The CX Leader Podcast we explore topics and themes to help leaders like you leverage all the benefits of their customer experience and help your customers and prospects want to do more business with you. If you're a customer experience professional, then the concept of dashboards is probably nothing new. But just for context, a dashboard is a tool that displays data in a graphical format showing key performance indicators for your business in the CX space. We use them to communicate data like NPS and loyalty. But is your dashboard up to snuff? Is it showing you the data you really need? And is it organized in a way that your employees and colleagues can glean from it the right information? Joining me for this episode is my friend and colleague Katie Hatch, a technology consultant here at Walker, a dashboard expert and a first time guest on the show. And she's going to help us explore the dos and don'ts of building and maintaining your XM dashboard. Katie, welcome to The CX Leader Podcast.

Katie:
Thanks for having me. It's great to be here.

Steve:
Well, it's a pleasure to have you. And I can't believe it's taken you this long to be a guest on the podcast. How did you avoid this for the last couple of years?

Katie:
Well, you know, I suppose when you… You're a full time remote associate, that kind of helps you don't get passed in the hallway every day, so…

Steve:
Well, I know you've had a good career here at walker. And just for the benefit of our audience, maybe just tell them a little bit about your career and how you became to be such an expert in dashboards.

Katie:
Sure. I actually, this was my first, I guess you'd say, real job straight out of college. So started here in February of '07. I've been in a couple of different roles over the those years. Started out as the various project manager client facing department, you know, working with the ins and outs and different core teams and, you know, kind of monitoring a project from beginning to end. And did that role for about four and a half years. And, you know, even during that time, it became clear to myself and actually some of my coworkers that, you know, I had a bit of a niche as far as reporting data. So I switched to what used to be called our graphics and reporting department. And there's a couple of us left around and really specialized at that point for several years in making PowerPoint reports. So that really still reporting your data, but it was primarily aimed at PowerPoint reports or PDFs or intranet images. So then a couple of years ago, when we started the switch and started working with Qualtrics kind of my transition to starting to work with CX dashboards, or EX dashboards came pretty naturally. So that's kind of been the focus of my ins and outs the last probably couple of years.

Steve:
Yeah. And, you know, the way we tell our story about the customer experience or the employee experience is in great part through how we display the data and the findings that we get out of our studies. So, you know, it is a real skill and a real talent to have that ability to help tell that story graphically. And, yeah, I'm so glad that you found your niche. And I know you had a lot of value to our clients and and our colleagues. So I'm grateful for that. In with your background, obviously, on the client service side, you understand that, you know, we we are here to help the clients. And that's what we're trying to do, is deliver value that they can use in their business to make their businesses better. Well, this is a show about dashboards. So let's let's talk a little bit about dashboards. I gave it a entry level introduction in the intro to the podcast. But why don't you kind of, in your words, tell us what you think a CX dashboard is and what are the types of things that we usually display?

Katie:
Sure. Yeah. A CX dashboard or really any dashboard in general, whether it's for CX account or your bank account, it's really just, you know, a collection of charts. We call them widgets. That's kind of your tech talk for it. But really, you know, graphs, tables, you know, heat map tables. If some people like to call them with color coding, you know, it's a variety of graphs and it's displaying the various results people collect throughout their surveys. You know, CX and EX both utilize dashboards to share results, you know, and it's a very effective way of relaying that data out to your various stakeholders and other team members, you know. Gone are the days of, you know, having to print out a whole bunch of PowerPoint reports and, you know, hand deliver them. And even now, we don't have to, you know, email everyone a specific report. You know, now they can go into these dashboards. We can set them up so that anybody can go in at any time that, you know, if you want him to be able to see results and "boom" it takes them to a page and there's everything they would want to know.

Steve:
So just for my learning, I'm learning something here. So all the various things that you might display on one page of a dashboard, those would be called widgets?

Katie:
Widgets. Yep.

Steve:
And what's the optimal… how many widgets to a page?

Katie:
Oh, I'd say that tends to vary quite a bit. I don't know that I've had a specific average number that it takes. No, don't really go beyond this point. It's more as I built them out or just, you know, people build them out. The biggest catch is if you start adding too many, you'll start noticing performance issues even as you're building the dashboard. So if you start to notice that there's kind of your red flag that, hey, I think perhaps a second page is in order now.

Steve:
Ok. So a dashboard could include multiple pages.

Katie:
Definitely. And in fact, usually does.

Steve:
And the more widgets you put on the page, the more likely you are to have performance issues?

Katie:
Yes, it'll definitely slow down. One of the clients I work with right now, their goal really was to replicate an Excel report that they were manually creating. And they really, really wanted that same look and feel of Excel. And, you know, we talked about some of those concerns ahead of time. And they're like, well, you know, just go with that. And we realized that risk. We've ended up maxing the number of widgets allowed on a page, which is well over 200. And it does take about three to five minutes for the widgets at the very bottom of the page to finish loading.

Steve:
That's too long.

Katie:
It is. You know, I know I get annoyed when I go to a Web site and it takes more than 30 seconds to load, you know, for their purposes, they love it. That's what they wanted. But, you know, for general uses and, you know, most people, that's not going to be something you want to do.

Steve:
And, you know, you talked a little bit about this, but gone are the days now where you have to have a lot of labor to put together all these various reports and sending them out, because if you load up those dashboards, then the user can go get it at their convenience, right?

Katie:
Absolutely. And there's a variety of different ways that you can restrict how much data a person can see. You can give varieties of different types of filters so that they can see global results or regions or more countries or business units all from the same page. So whereas we used to make separate reports or separate files for this region in this region and this business unit and this business unit, you know, now you can go onto the same page and see all of those results, which just, you know, a couple of clips, clicks of your mouse.

Steve:
Yeah. And it sets it up. It's more useful for the user, too, because then they're only getting the information that's important to them, right?

Katie:
Definitely.

Steve:
You mentioned your background is starting on the client service side. How do you think that's informed your ability to help our current client service folks and provide them with good dashboards for their clients?

Katie:
Yeah, it's actually kind of an interesting question cause I've been asked that before and in the past they've really had to think about it because for me, reporting, essentially reporting or dashboards, whatever you want to call it, came pretty naturally. I have since learned it does not come naturally for a lot of people. There was a time people just straight up like, look, I'm not great at reporting. I need your help. OK, gotcha. But one of the most interesting things that I've kind of tended to notice was, especially in the project management side, were how many times we would discuss in advance, you know, what types of reports they wanted, what the content would be, and then comparing that and those discussions back to what the end deliverable ultimately was. There were a lot of changes, a lot of like, oh, hey, can we add this in our oh, we need to add this and wait this was wrong. We told you the wrong field. It's really kind of helped me determine, all right, here's what they say they want and here's what they're saying is important and then trying to kind of deduct from there. All right. Here's what I bet they actually would also really like.

Steve:
Yes. So a couple of things you said there that I think are commonplace in our business, but you really begin with the end in mind. What is the user trying to accomplish? And then also because of your expertize, you can bring, you know, other things that you've seen in other places that would apply to a given client's circumstances and then let them iterate on a little bit, let the customer or the end user iterate with you on getting to the final product, right?

Katie:
Absolutely. Yeah. There's always you know, I know a lot of our, quote, standard programs. You know, there's… we allow one version of iterations. And I have found it realistically with from my accounts, which are typically straight just dashboard builds. Yeah. It's never one iteration. No, it's usually two or three or I'll come in the next day and notice they've been making changes to the things I've been building. It's always a an ongoing project.

Steve:
Yeah, well we're in a collaborative world, right?

Katie:
Absolutely.

Steve:
And technology keeps allowing us to have these tools. So just for the beginners here, what we're kind of the main considerations you consider when you're starting to set up a dashboard for a new client.

Katie:
Sure. So, I mean, a lot of it starts with the same questions you would ask yourself when you're designing a survey. You know, what do I want to know? What am I trying to find out? Because you know that content within your survey is going to drive what we can include on your dashboard. So not only the survey questions, but also, you know, if you want to see results by region, are you including fields that capture that region information or if you want business unit results, we need to have a field capturing those business unit results. So you kind of think ahead of what's important to us. What are our key segmentations are key metrics and making sure those are included. You know you know, they say you can go back at the end of your project and add new fields and populate it with region or business unit or country. But it's kind of a pain and it's time consuming to have to do it retroactively. So if you can kind of think about even on your day to day work, how are you looking at your company or how you're looking at your results from whatever you may be reporting right now, you know, that's going to help you at the end. The other thing that's always good to keep in mind is, you know, who's your end audience? And sometimes you may not know that. You know, if you're running your first program, your final audience may be you you may be the only user, and that's okay. But especially as people start getting into two or three surveys or a couple of years worth, they're starting to find they want to share results with more and more groups of people. So kind of having an idea, especially as you get into it. All right. Who do I want to share my results with and what's going to be, you know, that key information that, you know, that will need to have and to make sure the dashboards work the way we want them to?

Steve:
Katie, you've talked a little bit about some of the things that you ought to consider when you're putting a dashboard together. It's probably not too early to begin thinking about it when you're designing the questionnaire. Right? Because if you don't collect the data, you can't dashboard it.

Katie:
Absolutely. I would say one of the biggest mistakes you could make or one of the biggest new… you know, newbie mistakes out there is not to think about your dashboards or reporting your data till the very end. Cause, I mean, that's the obvious point when you realized, oh, I don't have this or we forgot to ask this question. So, yeah, trying to think ahead of, you know, ahead about reporting and how you might want to display data on dashboards is definitely something to try to think about at the very beginning.

Steve:
That's a great tip. What other kind of mistakes or common problems have you seen that are easily headed off with the right kind of thinking ahead?

Katie:
Those are probably the two. Biggest one is, you know, not planning ahead, not knowing an audience. Another big mistake is that balance of how many pages in a dashboard and how many widgets on a page. You know, you don't want people having to navigate down a list of 10 pages. But at the same time, we all know that if a page takes too long to load, no one's gonna use it. And, you know, and then again, on that flip side, again, you know, I'm making a triangle here. I've got three flip sides. But then you're going to have these little niche groups that say, well, I really am interested in "da da da da da." Or this other niche group whose, you know, especially focused on this small subset of questions from your survey. And they're going to want that information in their results. So, you know, balancing how much do I put on a page? You know, where does it make sense to have your page breaks, you know? And yet at the same time, making sure all these different stakeholders and users are able to get the information they need. And some of that comes with practice.

Steve:
We are having a conversation on this week's podcast with Katie Hatch, who's a technology consultant here at Walker and our resident expert on dashboard building and construction and visualization. And she's giving us some tips and dos and don'ts about how to build dashboards and how to use them in your organization. That last comment, Katie, gave me another thought: for a ongoing program, what's your thought about how often you make changes to the dashboard or update them versus how long do you keep the same dashboard in place for consistency sake?

Katie:
Sure. So it's probably a multifaceted response because part of it's going to impact, you know, if nothing else, you're going to want to update your dashboards as you run new surveys. You know, if you're running an annual relationship survey at least once a year, you're one to go. You're going to want to go in there and, you know, add that new data source, those new survey results. You're going to want to make sure there are any new questions to add, do we get make sure those are reflected in your dashboard as well. So outside of, you know, your annual updates, you know, or whenever you run a new survey, you know, some of it's going to depend on, you know, how does your company or your group do what I will call reporting, you know, where you've traditionally are you looking at results, you know, quarterly or monthly, you know, that may say, hey, there's tweaks we need to make every quarter or every month. Another thing to consider is how many people do you have using one dashboard? You may not want to do a completely brand new dashboard build, a total overhaul, if you have hundreds or thousands of people using it. Because then they're going to see, you know, hey, now I have to remember to go to a new page, I have to learn where everything is on this new dashboard. So it's a really know massive overhauls I don't think I needed all that often, but it's pretty rare. But definitely you'd want to update it if nothing else, as you have new survey results coming in.

Steve:
That kind of sparks another question I have for you is, you know, we've talked about water considerations. Where do people make mistakes? Where else do people tend to struggle or what is sort of some of the most complex issues you get into when you're designing dashboards?

Katie:
It comes down to layout, I think. And, you know, I've mentioned this in a little bit of, you know, how much you put on one page and where do you put page breaks? And kind of probably from my own experience in a variety of departments and just the amount of time I've been doing know reporting type work, I tend to find for a lot of my clients what I would call a top down approach works. So I will usually create the first page is like a high level and glance. The old phrase would be an executive scorecard. You've got your key metrics, you know, high level basics, you know, NPS, loyalty, overall satisfaction, number of responses. And then as you go down the list of pages, I will start to go into more depth. So then the next page may be high level results that really start bringing out more details. You may still have just NPS and loyalty and overall SAT. But now I'll start adding out your breakouts. I wanted to see this by region and country specifically. Trending is one that often gets overlooked, especially in the first time someone does a program like, well, we don't have any historic data. Yeah, that's fine. But it's definitely something to remember to start adding in, you know, as you keep going into the future. Then with longer surveys, a lot of times they'll have, you know, experience areas where they ask, you know, about a specific aspect of a journey or a project or the company or, you know, they'll have a specific area of a survey. They may have three or four of these experienced areas. So then I'll start going down and there may be one page for each experience area. And then even within that page, it's a top down approach where you're highest level, your overall satisfaction with whatever that experience is or that aspect is. You know, that's what I'll keep at the top. And then as you get down into what we would call the attribute questions or, you know, things that may be impacting those overall impressions, you know, those will be there, but they may be down towards the bottom of the page so that they're there. But if you don't want to scroll down the page, you don't have to. You can still get your high level info at the very top.

Steve:
You know, and that kind of picks up on what the whole purpose of our work is, and that's to improve the business and dashboarding and sharing the information is a key part of that. From your perspective, where have you seen dashboards really enhance your client's ability to to drive impact that has a positive impact on on the company and the performance?

Katie:
Sure. And I think there's probably actually two of those that I see quite frequently. One of them is a lot of times people are taking their survey results even straight at a Qualtrics, if you will, and they're doing a data dump and then they're using Excel or PowerPoint or they're importing it into another program or software to do any reporting. And realistically, most of what I have seen people doing off-line can be done within a dashboard without them having to spend hours each month or each quarter manually creating graphs and reports. Another big area that I see is that ability to share targeted results with different stakeholders or groups of users. So not only can you add page filters and whatever, but within the Qualtrics tool, at least you can even restrict how much info they can see. So we can set restrictions that say, hey, these people can only see results for their region or their business unit, or that we only want them to see these five pages out of it ten page dashboard. So that's a lot of ways that you can really make one dashboard or customize it to a certain set of users that would allow you to say, hey, we still have just this one dashboard. But now we can use it to help solve the data issues or the issues that these people want and then target it for this group and target it for this group.

Steve:
All right. Katie Hatch, technology consultant and dashboard aficionado. It is come that time in our program where we ask every guest to give their take home value. This is something that is CX pro or an XM pro could take and go back to the office and or back to their kitchen table these days and try to improve their program right off the bat. So, Katie Hatch, what is your take home value? What's your best tip for the XM pros out there?

Steve:
Sure. When it comes to dashboards, don't wait until the end. Think about it up front when you're designing that survey and you're setting up your contacts and your directories and try to have that in mind. It doesn't have to be perfect. But capturing that data upfront or having at least an idea of what key metrics you want out there is going to help you a great deal once you get towards the end of the project and you really actually start building on dashboards. You don't have to know what widgets you want or what colors you want to use. You just need to know. Hey, I like these segments. I like these high level metrics. Yep. That's all in the survey. Yep. That's being captured. Don't want to think about it till the very end. Think about it at the very beginning.

Steve:
That's a great tip. Thank you, Katie. Always begin with the end in mind and visualize what you'll be producing for your internal users earlier. The sooner the better. Katie Hatch has been my guest on the podcast this week. She's a technology consultant here at Walker, and she is our resident dashboard expert. Katie, if people would want to continue the conversation, can they find you like LinkedIn or you want to give me your Walker email?

Katie:
Easiest way would be through through email, which is khatch, that's k, h, a, t, c, h, at walkerinfo.com.

Steve:
Well, thanks again, Katie. Thanks for all the great work you do for our clients and for sharing your expertize on this podcast.

Katie:
Absolutely. I appreciate you having me.

Steve:
And if you want to talk about anything you heard on the podcast or about how Walker can help your business's customer experience in general, please feel free to e-mail me at steve.walker@walkerinformation.com. And be sure to check out our Web site, cxleaderpodcast.com, to subscribe to the show and find all of our previous episodes organized by the various series that we've run. You also will find our contact information and you can also if you have an idea about a future podcast or like and let us know how we're doing, we'll take that as well, too. The CX Leader Podcast is a production of Walker, we're an experience management firm that helps companies accelerate their XM success. You can read more about us at Walkerinfo.com. Thank you for listening. And we'll see again next time.

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