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How to Set up Your Customer Advisory Board (CAB): 10 Best Practices

When brewing a new marketing communication program, it is a given that the client’s voice is the prime ingredient. And that is why customers are stirring their thoughts and ideas through the help of a board, customer advisory board (CAB). It is of high pertinence to see the business from multiple perspectives.

Also, wouldn’t it be nicer getting free advice from loyal customers? Or just real valuable suggestions about new product opportunities? Even though I can see you nod, you should buckle up as this could get tricky too.

Let’s dig into what it takes to create a customer advisory board agenda. What are some of the customer advisory board best practices and its benefits? For starters, let’s delve into the definition of the term.

Customer Advisory Board best practices

What is a customer advisory board?

It is hand-picked selected customers who lend their valuable insights to product development. This is where customer advisory board members are encouraged to render honest feedback to articulate enhancements. CAB questions and discusses relevant industry trends and its usage. Here are 10 such customer advisory board best practices that you can adapt to set up a successful CAB.

  • Pre-define expectations
  • Empathy and Value
  • Commit and Care
  • Sponsors and Support 
  • Converse and Communicate
  • Provides a fresh perspective
  • Identify new opportunities
  • Networking and Socializing 
  • Recruit well
  • Time for Results

Pre-define expectations

Begin with streamlining a charter that outlines respective responsibilities for the CAB members. Look into questions like, how many meetings will be needed to come up with a specific solution? Or will there be surveys, assessments, or evaluations to gather insights into the performance so far?

And if yes, what is the right way to do so. In turn, define what your commitment – as the sponsoring organization – is to the CAB. Know where the line of expectations for you as a group is and then preach the same.

Empathy and Value

Equally important is that you show the CAB members that you care about their value. Share them how your brand is using their feedback in a meaningful way that makes a positive difference. They want to know how their contributions are manifesting.

And what tangible deliverables are resulting from their input. Each CAB meeting should allow time to speak to “here’s how you’ve helped us” and showcase specific examples of how their feedback has translated into actions.

Commit and Care

Be it any relation, the foundation of the bond begins with absolute commitment. And that works both ways. Needless to say, you are looking to extract the maximum value from the board members, while they too are aspirant of, ‘what’s in there for me’.

Showcase your commitment by honoring them and letting them know that their individual voice is recognized. Ensure that your meetings foster a healthy exchange with – and between – members as part of the agenda.

Sponsors and Support 

The leverage obtained by executive sponsorship can never be underestimated. The C-Suite, business heads, and thought leaders with an invested interest can be involved in the development of CAB. But how do you find the right ones?

Choose stakeholders aligned with the CAB’s mission, who can provide recommendations on CAB candidates to recruit based on their relationships, and who will actively contribute to the agenda of CAB meetings to ensure they achieve the intended objectives.

Converse and Communicate

CAB - Converse and Communicate

Building a healthy customer rapport takes you a long way. Regularly, stay in touch with the CAB associates and offer them a channel to continue the communications. Additionally, you can have one-on-one meetings to know in detail whether you are on the same page or not.

Further, if there are any new ones in the group, ensure that they receive a warm welcome and they don’t take a backseat from approaching other members. Keeping in touch helps nurture and imbue a relationship and augments member loyalty.

Provides a fresh perspective

By including multiple customers, you’ll see where there’s overlap between companies and industries and where sharp contrasts lie. You will be in a better-aware position and know where your competitions are. And whether you are winning the race or missing it by some points.

Their rationale for both purchasing and continuing to use the product will be revealed, providing a better sense of what’s really important to actual paying customers. The more intimate and open setting of a customer advisory board can provide a fresh look at customers’ true motivations.

Identify new opportunities

Hurdle up and discuss some of the key questions related to your business, such as: Are there new capabilities that could be pushed? Should the customer segmentation become finer?

Not all customers are created equal, so one objective could be understanding what companies of different sizes or in various industries really need from the product. The board can help shape a go-forward strategy for growth and expansion.

Networking and Socializing 

Man is a social creature. So, expecting everyone to show up at sharp 7 AM and start talking business isn’t realistic. Hence, give the members a chance to gel up socially. You can also offer some pre-meeting breakfast time when people can chat a bit and warm things up. However, don’t try and force any conversations during this time. Focus on getting the pleasantries out of the way.

Recruit well

One of the customer advisory board best practices involves having the right members. While it is good to have a few loyal fans, consider reaching out to customers that haven’t purchased from you in 12 months or more to learn why. Remember, it is the customers that make or break the deal.

Also, try to include members from large, medium, and small organizations too. Diversity is are key to soliciting well-rounded, realistic input from this representative customer sampling.

Time for Results

You need to ensure that the CAB is staying on task and satisfying the objectives for which it was initially designed and are outlined in the charter. Ascertain whether it is meeting the set expectations. Start taking member surveys and share meeting recaps and quantify the insights and inputs used.

Say, for instance, gather sales data from member organizations to see whether participation in the CAB has generated any sort of revenue lift or opened new opportunities.

Final Take

Customer Advisory Boards enable product teams to unlock the insights of their key customers. This broadens the pool of great minds contributing to the success of the product. But all those benefits require some serious effort. So are you ready to invest in it? Follow the above-said customer advisory board best practices and in no time you are all set to set a successful board.

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