Customer dashboards tell a story about who your best customers are and how your business is evolving. Understanding that information can help you make strategic decisions that grow your company efficiently and sustainably.
“What gets measured stays top of mind and what gets measured also gets done,” says SaaSWorks CEO Vipul Shah. “If you say ‘I’m going to build these dashboards to feed the growth frameworks I have in mind, then these analytics will start to influence strategy.”
Questions Customer Dashboards Can Answer
Who are my customers?
Who are your customers? What shared attributes do they have? Where are they coming from?
“Once there’s enough data to be able to understand and have a customer dashboard, one of the first things businesses say is ‘I’d really like to better understand who our customers are and identify any patterns within why they are our customers,’” says Vipul.
For companies with a stronger initial understanding of their customer base, these dashboards might be focused around segmentation for ICPs and buyer personas, but they can also be focused around the factors that help you create those profiles, like geography, industry and company size.
Looking at that firmographic information at an aggregate level will help you create a segmentation system and understand who you’re good at selling to.
How have firmographics been trending over time?
Once you define what the firmographics of your customer base look like today, then you can dive into whether that’s always been the case.
How does the current firmographic makeup differ from what it was three quarters ago or six quarters ago? Are you naturally transitioning to different customers due to the nature of your offering? Are your marketing or sales strategies causing change?
Understanding these trends can help you determine the best adjustments to make to your positioning strategies going forward.
Which customers did you lose?
Looking into firmographic trends will reveal what types of customers you’ve continued to serve successfully, but the flip side of that is identifying what customers you’ve been churning over time.
Ideally the segments that you acquire best are also who you retain the best, but if not, that might indicate unsustainability in your business model.
“What if the segments where you’ve been acquiring the most customers are also where you’re churning the most?” Vipul says.
The segments where you’re seeing high churn can reveal an issue with your product or service delivery or just poor-fit.
What segments have the best economics?
Is there a difference in payment amount across segments? How much are you discounting? What trends around deal size exist?
Analyzing payment data can help you understand which segments are the most profitable. For example, you might find that you have better economics with smaller companies than bigger ones if you tend to discount the most for large companies, but then retain small companies better and have more of them as customers.
Metrics to Measure with Customer Dashboards
The specific metrics you should measure with customer dashboards will vary company to company depending on your business’s needs. You should never measure a metric solely because other companies do so, and instead, you should focus your analysis on data that will inform your business decisions.
With that in mind, here are some metrics that you can measure with customer dashboards in order to answer the questions above and inform strategic growth decisions:
Customer lifetime value (CLV)
CLV is the net profit you’ll receive over the entire relationship with a customer. It’s calculated using the expenses of acquiring and servicing a customer, the length of the engagement and the size of the contract.
Measuring CLV can help you ensure that you’re targeting the right customers to begin with, and identify who your best-fit customers are.
“Most businesses tend to analyze customer lifetime value at an aggregate level and risk missing out on signals at a segment level,” Vipul says. “Scale, industry, and geography can all impact what drives lifetime value.”
To see the benefits of measuring CLV by segment, you don’t even need to go as deep as analyzing by ICP or buyer persona. Even just segmenting by high-level characteristics like company size or industry can provide you with actionable insights.
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
CAC is how much you spend to acquire a lead and convert them into a customer. When combined with CLV, CAC can help you determine if you’re seeing ROI from your marketing and sales efforts.
If your CAC is larger than your CLV, then you’re likely not going after the right types of customers for your offering.
“Intuitively, many operators presume that big customers are better, small customers are less profitable, but it’s not uncommon to see bigger customers with disproportionately higher CAC or lower CLV,” Vipul says.
Average selling price (ASP) /average contract value (ACV)
How much does your product or service cost? What’s the typical price of an engagement with your company?
“ASP is a really good metric to track and to understand if it varies by segment,” Vipul says. “How often, and in which segments, are you having to discount?”
Even if you think you have a solid understanding of your ASP, building out a dashboard to look at it and examine trends can still provide you with new insights. Like with CAC, it’s important to analyze ASP not just company-wide but also at a segment level.
Average customer lifetime
How many months or years does a customer typically stay with you? Are some segments generally retained longer than others? How has this been trending over time?
Measuring average customer lifetime will help you calculate CLV. On top of that, trends for when dropoff points are can indicate friction points within your product or service delivery.
Building out dashboards about the current state of your customer base and what occurred to help you reach that state can help you determine what’s working well for your company and what isn’t.
But, you can also use those historical dashboards to project what your future performance will look like. As you start to forecast, using customer metrics can help you identify your leverage points.
For example, if two segments have similar ASPs and lifetime lengths, but different CACs, focusing your marketing and sales efforts on the segment with the lower CAC can increase your profits.
Quinn is a writer and copyeditor whose work ranges from journalism to travel writing to inbound marketing content.