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Power of Visuals

Have you ever had one of those moments, where you see the exact same data presented in a new way, and it makes you say, "Aha!"?

I recently encountered this situation, which reminded me of how powerful visuals are in communicating the customer perspective.

There are so many different ways to visualize customer feedback. You can use graphs, bubble charts, verbatims, summary words, pictures, symbols – the list goes on and on.

And, it seems like different people interpret visuals in different ways. I’m sure you can all relate to an instance where the information was obvious to you, but when presented to someone else, it just wasn’t registering.

Here are a few lessons I’ve picked up along the way:

  • Use visuals that help the audience interpret the information. For example, the stoplight color coding is used because people understand that red is bad and green is good. This isn’t meant to suggest that you write out all of the details on the slide. The visual should speak for itself.
  • Only show information that is relevant to the point you are making. As the person in charge of the customer program, it is our responsibility to look at all of the information, but we don’t need to share it all with our audience. Only the key points.
  • Try different formats when visualizing the data. It’s important to experiment with different views (e.g., bar charts, line charts, gap scores, bubble charts, etc.). Seeing a variety of options will help determine which one best communicates the key point.
  • Always be clear on the purpose of the data. Ask yourself, is this a detailed report of findings (to be used by a small group of people) or a summary presentation? What do I hope to accomplish once I’m done communicating this information? Am I trying to prompt action or communicate progress?

What are some of the lessons you’ve learned?

Photo credit: Flowing Data

Note: This post was originally published in Customer Connectionon 2/11/2010.

About the Author

Leslie Pagel

Leslie Pagel

As vice president of customer experience, Leslie is responsible for incorporating the voice of Walker’s customers into the solutions development process. To do this, Leslie spends the majority of her time interacting with Walker account teams, clients, and prospective clients to understand their business challenges. She coordinates several listening posts that are used to drive strong client relationships and enhance our consulting and technology capabilities.

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