Business to business Customer Advisory Boards or CABs, are more than just a customer marketing program. When done correctly, CABs will help define corporate strategies, impact product development and roadmaps, influence customer service/success programs, and even how a company will respond to industry issues or concerns.
A Customer Advisory Board is a chartered board of strategically recruited customers who provide insight, advice and counsel to a company’s executive team. In order to be successful, there are specific steps and processes which set up a successful CAB. As an expert in this area, the AND group has helped numerous companies to start and maintain successful Customer Advisory Board programs over the years.
There are several keys to a successful CAB:
A specific charter that aligns or provides a compelling theme for the CAB
Common interests to ensure that customers derive as much value as the company
Keeping the CAB action oriented – the what must have a how and when
Active management of the Board – a delegate who communicates, follows up and provides updates including tracking and scorecards
The program should be tightly aligned to the company strategic goals, objectives and plans
Senior management buy-in, commitment and alignment on the CAB objectives
The benefits of a Customer Advisory Board can be extensive for the sponsoring company when set up and built correctly. These benefits can cut across strategy, marketing, customer satisfaction, product development, solutions to vexing problems, account management, development of best practices, etc., and will drive the CAB make up and the type of executive level engagement.
Customer Advisory Boards should be considered a way to increase customer service, improve products/services, enhance executive dialog and as a way to generate incremental sales. CABs also have been proven to create a strong vested relationship with the customer participants.