Client Reporting: the Missing Link in the Evolution of Customer Success

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As a marketing professional, your mission is to recruit clients, develop a plan to promote their goods and services, roll it out and watch the money roll in – for you and them. But as you often find out, there is a lot more nuance to a successful marketing campaign than developing the product, targeting customers and buying ads. A core competency expected in marketers today is in the skill of “client reporting.”

In order to produce high-quality client reports , Customer Success Managers should never succumb to a checkbox mentality and monotonous monthly data dumps. Instead,client reporting should focus on using data-driven storytelling to illustrate the success of your media plan and reinforce your value to your client. People have the ability to processes images 60,000 times faster than text, making data-driven visualizations significantly more effective in grabbing attention and providing detailed insights into trends. This approach can do wonders for customer success teams and improve customer lifetime value for the company.

Marketers that focus on customer success see significant reductions in customer churn and gains in customer engagement. The ability to use data to articulate campaign success or progress towards an identified goal is key in transitioning a customer success manager’s role from a seller to a trusted advisor and consultant. The orientation towards data-driven communication will help solidify customer relationships in the long term. The guidance outlined below can help any marketer optimize reports to improve their ability to communicate with their customers.



Planning
According to Gartner, the journey to better loyalty, advocacy and satisfaction begin with meeting customers’ basic needs. In the effort to improve customer success, it’s critical to develop a plan specific for a given product or service, setting a price, identifying prospective customers, honing a sales pitch, and setting revenue and profitability goals that align with fulfilling customer needs. This may sound like a syllabus for Marketing 101, but it’s important to have well-articulated fundamentals.

In light of this, delivering a successful client report starts with identifying what your client’s goals really are. Most likely they’re after things like increased foot traffic to their store, higher Google rankings, more followers, increased traffic to their website with a higher conversion rate from visitors to buyers. But your skill in client reporting is not just in those core metrics but in your in-depth understanding of them.

The important role you play in delivering a client report is in how your longtime experience in marketing informs the insight you share with them. Done right, it can present your client with that “aha moment” when you deliver something insightful, which they consider brilliant.

Take, for instance, search engine optimization (SEO). Everybody enjoys the thrill of having a web page from their company’s site turn up on the first page of Google search results. But after a month or so of no such sighting, the client gets worried and starts to doubt your SEO prowess. But in your reporting, you can explain what’s really important is not whether a particular page ranks high on Google, but how many views a specific page actually gains. Those are two different things.

The truth is that your team has selected several “backlinks” that are intended to also direct traffic to that target page. Other links within the client’s website also help direct traffic there. When you check it out, traffic has indeed increased to the target page independent of the Google search ranking. And what’s your client to say to that? “Aha!”

With client reporting, you will be able to show them that they’re getting what they really want- more sales.



Managing Expectations
The broader value of client reporting is in managing expectations. To be sure, not every marketing strategy you suggest to your client is guaranteed to work. Market disruptions, economic downturns, the merger of two major competitors are just a few examples of wrenches that can be thrown into your work. Client reporting done right helps you deliver realistic promises even amid market surprises. Put another way, effective client reporting helps you master one of the central tenets of service delivery: Under-promise and over-deliver.

Bringing It Together
In order for client reporting to be effective, it must be presented in a way that’s easy for your clients to understand. This is something that Google Trends mastered in its 2015 Lookback campaign. In the end, Google handed its marketing team a creative asset that has garnered more than 10 million views to date and provided a platform for promoting client success by enhancing upsell opportunities for its search platform and initiating more effective ad campaigns.

Data is key to developing good content and ultimately telling a story that resonates. Here are three things to keep in mind to promote report clarity and to improve data-driven storytelling capabilities:

Keep it simple. Easy to understand laymen’s terms will help educate your client about unfamiliar concepts, especially in this emerging area.

Explain the numbers in a story form. Don’t get bogged in data explanations that can only make their eyes glaze over. Instead, talk about the trends and insights that the data represents (taking out here so we don’t have “instead” twice in one sentence) so you aren’t leaving the client to guess.

Use visualization. Charts, graphs and other illustrations will help your clients really see what’s happening with their marketing campaign. Like you, they’re busy and want to grasp this new information quickly.



Data-driven storytelling in the form of client reporting may require relearning parts of your regular marketing processes, but the investment in time and planning will ultimately have a positive effect on your relationship with your customers and the success of your business overall. Done well, it will give them that “aha moment” for which they will give you many thanks. To take your reports to the next level, remember to focus on articulating key performance indicators, explaining the importance of context, and making data actionable.

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