Your Clients by the Numbers: The Story of Good Metrics

ChelseaWilliams
By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
Feb 23 2023 read
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You might be great with numbers and enjoy combing through data. But a more likely scenario if you’re in professional services? You started a business without thinking about how complex reporting would be — and how drastically it would change over time.

Knowing which metrics matter for your business, plus how to extricate them from various sources and present them meaningfully, is no small undertaking. Unfortunately, a lot of business intelligence platforms aren’t set up for analyzing client behavior and profitability. They’re often focused on operational or financial metrics instead.

You need an easy way to collect and analyze client-driven metrics.  

What if learning about your clients by the numbers could be an ongoing practice that’s built into your client work and largely automated? 

Let’s discover how to gather the key metrics that tell a story — and how having these at your fingertips will equip you with the confidence to make impactful decisions that bring you closer to your goals.  

Chapter 1: Elements of an Effective Reporting Setup

No matter which reporting tools you use, you need to feed them with quality input. Doing so requires that you have some basic mechanisms in place.

  1. A powerful CRM. Most client-based businesses today have a CRM — 91% of them. But these platforms aren’t necessarily contributing to good reporting. In our experience working with service professionals, it’s best to have an integrated CRM that attaches all of your sales, project management, ticketing, billing and other activity to a client record. 
  2. Automated time tracking. Your core client work functions need to be tracked by the minute if you want to generate real-time billable utilization data. Giving your employees the ability to track their time automatically in the same platform they’re using to accomplish their work improves accuracy and efficiency.
  3. A way to track project types. If you provide more than one type of service, it’s important to stay on top of how profitable each is. A robust work management platform with a built-in CRM can differentiate between types of projects and connect them back to client records, giving you the ability to analyze each bucket of project types individually.
  4. A way to track project expenses. You’re likely already careful about tracking how much revenue you’re bringing in, but are you noting outgoings as diligently? Round out your project and client profitability metrics by setting up a simple way to attach project expenses directly to projects rather than keeping those records in a separate accounting system.
  5. A method for receiving and responding to client requests. Many client-based teams spend more time than they realize interacting with clients — about both in-scope and ad-hoc requests. You need to monitor the impact these various requests have on your billable time, which is only possible if you’re logging them in a way that makes it possible to attach time records.

Chapter 2: Unify Your Data

The five elements above are the bare bones of a practical approach to reporting in a client-based field. But there’s one big caveat: They can’t exist in silos. In an ideal setup, each input feeds into other linked metrics without manual effort.

Achieving accurate input begins with providing the right place for your team to house information. Given the expansive range of business management tools out there, it can be tempting to piece together your own tech stack to check off each box. 

Although this may seem like a cost-effective approach, it too often results in disjointed client work processes and time-consuming operations. Before you know it, you have a whole suite of unused and underutilized platforms that are costing you, yet aren’t helping you understand your clients.

➡️ Here’s why selecting a platform that’s customizable for the unique needs of client-based businesses can help. 

Chapter 3: Optimize How Your Team Records Activity

Your next step on the path to quality reporting about clients is ensuring employees use your chosen platform as designed. Sufficient training can minimize human error and maximize your return on investment. Acumen Data Systems reports that correcting time-tracking errors by implementing automated time entry alone can save businesses over $600,000 per year.

Your client-facing team should also be trained (or guided via trigger automations) on:

  • Sale or project categorization
  • Custom field entry
  • Proper expense and budget tracking
  • Issue resolution and documentation
  • Communication archiving practices

With good training, your team will understand how to use software as designed — as an integral part of streamlined workflows that automatically track and compile the metrics you need to see reflected in reports.

Thus, learning about your clients starts with optimizing how your team works as a seamless unit and thoroughly preparing them for software adoption.

Larson Accounting offered so many different types of projects and fielded such a wide range of client issues that their leadership team couldn’t identify any trends among their clients. Read how ticket type differentiation and custom statuses and fields in Accelo helped this firm scale by 50% in three years.

Long Story Short: Engage in Meaningful Analysis

The fruits of this effort come when you have the key information at your fingertips to analyze the people you serve at any time. You’ll be able to identify negative or positive trends with certain clients or your client base as a whole.

While tightening up reporting practices may simply confirm that you’re on track, it could also highlight the need for some major changes, such as increasing billing rates for some services or even cutting your client base to focus on the most profitable clients.

 

The Story Good Data Tells About Your Clients

You want to know the big numbers about revenue, billable time and profitability, but there are also other interesting patterns to watch for in your client-driven data. 

  • How long does the average client stick with your business?
  • How many projects does your team complete per client per year?
  • What’s the relationship between the number of client requests and project profitability?
  • Do budget overages or scope creep seem to correlate with overdue invoices?
  • What percentage of your clients renew and/or upgrade their services?

Answering questions like these can help leadership think about your business from a more granular angle. You may discover creative ways to improve these metrics and, thus, client satisfaction.

 

 

What story will your data tell? Explore a new reporting setup that carries through the entire client journey. Start your free trial or schedule a demo of Accelo.

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About the Author

ChelseaWilliams

Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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