Today’s customers want self-service.
Most businesses know that. In fact, the majority of businesses believe their customers are “very satisfied” with their self-service offerings.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but… only 15% of consumers agree.
So, what can you do to create a compelling, premium self-service experience for your customers?
Enter the client dashboard. Instead of interacting with your customers via email, links to documents in Google Drive, or (God forbid!) phone calls, you can set up a user-friendly, individual portal for each customer where they can find everything they need to work with you.
For your customers, it’s the difference between digging through their inbox to look for that #&$%-ing file you sent them three weeks ago…
…and clicking on a link where they’ll find that file, plus a recording of your last onboarding call, a handy tutorial on getting started with your products, and everything else that they’d forgotten they even needed.
Sounds good? Here’s how to get started.
What is a client dashboard?
Client dashboards are customer-facing portals used for ongoing relationship management and communication with your clients.
Also known as client portals, these dashboards are used by agencies, service providers, and SaaS companies to:
- Report on metrics
- Share deliverables
- Track project statuses
- Manage customer requests
- Centralize communication
Using a client dashboard is an alternative to handling client management over email and tracking tasks with an internal project management tool like Trello, for instance.
Instead, you create a shared workspace where you can collaborate with your clients on their projects, share updates, and make it much easier for both of you to move things forward.
Client dashboard example
At Dock, we use the Superpath Marketplace to handle some of our content requirements. Here’s a walkthrough of the client dashboard that Superpath gave us to keep track of our collaboration (actually, they made it in Dock! #meta).
They start with a quick summary of our partnership and key contact information.
Superpath uses this client dashboard to keep us up to date on how our deliverables are coming along, with an Airtable view embedded into the dashboard that shows us all the project statuses:
They also embed a form that we can use to make requests for new content:
This single dashboard lets us keep track of all our content projects, capture ideas, collaborate easily on joint projects, and handle all our communications—instead of sending tons of back and forth emails or handling tons of tasks in a PM tool.
In sum, if you’re an agency, a service or SaaS provider, or just need to have a lot of interactions with your clients, you probably should be offering a client dashboard as standard.
Why should you bother with client dashboards?
At this point, you might be thinking: sure, this all sounds great, but who has the time?
Customers are used to interacting with us via email, and they have access to our customer help center if they have any questions. Why can’t we just keep doing that?
Well, you can! But you might want to reconsider. Here are just a few of the benefits of providing your clients with their own dashboard:
1. You offer a better customer experience
If you’re in business today, then you’re competing on customer experience. According to a 2022 study by the International Data Corporation (IDC), more than three-quarters of the businesses surveyed say that customer experience is a critical competitive differentiator.
The more you can do to boost customer satisfaction, the more likely you are to keep your customers. And giving every client a single link to a curated client dashboard streamlines their workflow and makes it far easier for them to work with you.
2. You provide a more personalized, premium experience
When you’re offering a top-of-the-line product or service, you need the rest of the experience to match.
So why would you send your customers to Google Drive or Dropbox to find the documents they need? Everyone does that.
Wouldn't it be better, and more in line with the rest of your brand, to send them into a visually appealing workspace where they can find everything they need?
3. You keep your customers engaged
You’ve poured significant time and energy into closing a new customer account—but the implementation phase seems to be dragging on for weeks. You’re chasing your contacts there to the point of being irritating—but you’re still not moving things forward. And worse, you have no idea why.
Client dashboards help you speed things up. You can work together with your customers as collaborators on a shared implementation roadmap, right in their customer portal. You can see exactly when they hit snags or delays, and jump in to keep things moving forward.
4. You get to know your customers better
The engagement analytics built into client dashboards give you an incredible level of detailed insight into your customers’ behavior.
- Which pieces of content do they keep going back to?
- Which tutorials were most useful to them?
- Which resources get totally ignored?
With this info, you can refine your customer experience and optimize your post-sales content to make all your future customers even happier.
5. You can manage relationships with many stakeholders
Instead of forcing your customer success reps to answer questions from 10 or more stakeholders for each account, you give all the interested parties access to the same handy portal with every resource right there for them.
You not only save your customer success team time and energy—you’re also ensuring that your customers can collaborate easily.
Take Superpath’s client dashboard as an example again. If we had multiple team members who wanted to put in content requests, we’d be able to see what our other team members already requested. Or if our leadership wanted to check on the status of a piece of content, they could check the dashboard rather than asking around in the company.
6. You showcase the value you provide
Let’s say you’re a digital agency, for instance. You can easily embed data visualizations into your client dashboard, so every time the clients log in, they can see the impact your work is having on their SEO numbers.
There’s a huge difference between telling your clients about recent wins and having them see them for themselves on a daily basis.
7. You build trust
Trust is the key to any good relationship. With a client dashboard in place, your customers can see that you’re delivering on what you said you would do.
For instance, they can see that you’ve been working on their project, check in on the progress of deliverables, and see that you’re keeping your word to them. If you embed your metrics, you can even prove it with numbers.
Basically, it all comes down to retention. The nicer it is to work with you, the more likely your customers will want to keep doing it. And given that a 5% increase in customer renewals produces more than a 25% increase in profit—it’s kind of a no-brainer.
What should you include in a client dashboard?
Obviously, this will all depend on your business and what your clients need to see, but here are a few ideas.
Contact information and a booking link
Your clients don’t want a relationship with your company—they want a relationship with a human being. So make sure that you put your main point of contact front and center.
It’s also a good idea to add a meeting booking link so there’s no friction if they need to get hold of you.
Statement of work
Avoid scope creep and keep everyone on the same page with a quick summary of what you’ve agreed to deliver to your client.
This is especially good for customers with a lot of different stakeholders, or if your products are somewhat complex to use. With Dock, you can embed Loom videos, Zoom recordings, Teams meetings, and Gong videos—or you can just add links to all your recent meetings.
Make collaboration easier and keep your clients from holding up projects with a project checklist that reflects the tasks to be done by both parties.
Keep all your deliverables (the content assets you created for the client, for instance) in one place so they never need to go looking for them.
Instead of sending your customers to dig around in a generic customer support site, provide them with personalized onboarding content.
For instance, you can:
- Add or create tutorials specifically aimed at their customer segment or user profile
- Embed tutorials for different levels of product user (say, tutorials for managers and tutorials that managers can send to end users)
- Add walkthroughs for specific features that they’ve expressed interest in
- Embed Q&A sessions to help them get more out of your products
Documentation and security profiles
Keep critical documents like your signed contract and security documentation in the same secure location, so nobody has to go looking for them.
Post-sales marketing content
Make sure every customer gets the most out of your products and services by including client case studies and marketing information about your other offerings.
Here are a few ideas:
- Sales one-pagers on other services or products they’re not currently subscribed to
- Case studies of customers in their niche who are getting great results from your products
- Information about new features that they might be waiting for
With Dock’s synced workspace, you can sync new content across all your client dashboards to make sure you’re keeping all your customers up to date.
Reports and surveys
Keep your client relationships healthy with custom reports, such as marketing reports or quarterly reviews, to analyze what’s working, what needs work, review current results, and make a list of next actions.
Let your customers keep an eye on their own data sources with embedded data visualizations. You can set this up to reflect their top KPIs, showcase the results you’re getting for them, or remind them why they hired you in the first place!
🧩 Get the template: Get Dock’s free client dashboard template here.
Client dashboard software: What tools do you need to get started?
To create a client dashboard, you’ll need a good dashboard tool as a starting point. Then you’ll want to embed other content and tools in your dashboard to make it as useful as possible.
Before you start buying software, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- What are the questions our clients ask us most often?
- What is the key value that we deliver, and how can we best showcase that?
- How often do we work on multiphase projects with our clients?
- What are the KPIs that are most important to our clients?
- What do we have to send to clients via email?
You should answer these questions together with your Sales and Customer Success teams.
Next you’ll need to get your dashboard tool set up and embed features based on your answers to the questions above.
Before you begin, a few quick tips on dashboard design:
- Less is more. Just because you can add pretty much anything into your Dock dashboard doesn’t mean you should! Don’t overwhelm people with too much information. Instead, consider your client’s needs first, and then only add the resources that will meet those needs.
- Customize it for the client. Make sure you add the client’s logo and name throughout. Only include information relevant to their specific business. Show them you were paying attention!
- Templatize your dashboard. Creating a dashboard template for each client segment will help you create personalized-feeling dashboards at scale.
Well, it’s gotta be Dock Workspaces, right?
Here’s why we feel comfortable tooting our own horn here:
- Personalize at scale: Dock makes it easy (and affordable) to set up intuitive, engaging dashboards for every client. It’s also very straightforward to scale this up. Create a client dashboard template and you can quickly duplicate it for new clients (or make a template for each segment).
- Sync content across clients: You can sync across all your client dashboards if you want to change or update a section: for instance, if your marketing team has new client case studies that you want to get in front of all your key accounts.
- Simplify communication: It’s not just a data dashboard. You can use Dock as a unified client communication channel, comment on deliverables, add notifications, assign tasks, share content, and update stakeholders, all in one place.
- Embed any content: Think videos, forms, graphs, surveys, spreadsheets, PDFs—or anything with an iframe basically. So you never need to use another tool to share anything with your clients—it’s all in their dashboard.
Once you’ve got your Dock account set up, you’ll also want to think about embedding your other client communication tools into your dashboard, to keep it all in the same place.
Here are a few options to consider, all of which can be embedded into Dock client dashboards as widgets.
Data visualization tools
To create real-time visualizations of key client data and automate client reporting, you can embed dashboards from:
Project management tools
To create customer-facing project plans, you can use Dock’s action plan tool—it can be turned into a list or a Kanban view, depending on your usual workflow.
Dock lets you add project plans and task lists to your client portal, with features such as:
- Due dates
- Task assignees
- Internal-only tasks
- File upload or download buttons
- Task comments
Alternatively, you can embed:
- Project management tools like Trello, Airtable, or Asana
- Spreadsheet tools, like Google Sheets or Microsoft Excel
You’ll probably want to include a form tool, to capture client submissions, requests, changes, and feedback. Options include:
You’ll also need some video software, so you can easily share tutorials, walkthroughs, and meeting recordings. A few examples include:
- Tutorial videos on YouTube, Wistia, or Vimeo
- Async video messages or demos from Loom or Vidyard
- Meeting recordings from Gong or Zoom
You may also want to include a presentation software, to share slide decks, educational resources, and meeting notes.
And we could go on!
Create a compelling client dashboard with Dock
If you want to delight and retain your clients, you need to know that you’re creating a fantastic experience for them at every touchpoint.
But if you’re bombarding them with emails, or sending over to dig through file-sharing apps to find the information they need, then you simply aren’t giving them best-in-class service.
Instead, try setting up easy-to-use client dashboards that have everything they need to work with you—all in one place.
To get started with Dock and give your clients a premium experience, start your free trial or schedule a demo today.