Ask the Expert: Are Customer Advisory Boards Needed?
Published: April 21, 2016
This blog is part of our Ask the Expert series on improving the customer journey by evaluating and improving customer interactions across various touch points within your organization.
Recently, I sat down with Bob Caruso, Business Consulting Director at Tribridge, with more than 25 years of experience designing optimal customer experiences for Fortune 500 customers. He has worked with some of the world's leading financial services, high technology, retail and entertainment companies, creating individualized customer experience strategies to drive business success.
In addition to leveraging customers for satisfaction feedback, we discussed working with customers as strategic advisors to develop corporate strategy, as well as providing insight on new product development.
Q: Why should organizations consider including customers in strategic planning conversations?
A: Business is personal. Developing deep relationships with top tier customers is critical in today's fast moving, highly-competitive business environment. Frequent, deliberate discussions with key customer executives helps build the type of relationships that deliver clear benefits:
- Validate your company's value proposition and strategic direction
- Better understand trends, drivers and priorities shaping your customers business
- Collaborate on shared business issues
- Direct, clear feedback on new and existing products and marketing approaches
- Review, assess, or brainstorm product direction and opportunities
- Develop referrals to new customers in the same or similar markets to your existing key customers
If your company doesn't have a functioning Customer Advisory Board (CAB), it's time to invest in this high-value market development program.
Q: What is a Customer Advisory Board?
A: A Customer Advisory Board (CAB), as defined by www.customeradvisoryboard.org, is a B2B sales and marketing program that involves regularly convening a small group of influential customers who have a vested interest in helping to shape the host company's strategy.
Time is the currency of this century. It's important to remember a CAB is not a sales event, but an opportunity to work together with your key customers in a casual yet facilitated environment. It should be a safe place for all members and viewed as a valuable use of time.
Q: What are some tips to consider when developing a CAB?
A: Here are my top tips for setting up a successful CAB:
- Author a clear, concise charter that reflects your specific goals and objectives
- Establish roles and responsibilities for management and execution of the CAB
- Select key customers for membership by isolating your top tier customers (top 20%)
- Identify internal leaders as recruiting agents for each candidate/company
Tribridge works with our clients to develop a fully formed strategy and execution plan for launching and managing a CAB. Our experience with CABs in multiple industries brings a wealth of ideas to make your CAB as success.
To learn more about how your organization can launch a CAB or improve your customer listening strategy, reach out to Tribridge to help.