The customer advisory board meeting is seen by many C-level executives at sponsoring companies as an incredibly efficient and effective means for customer engagement. Two or three days of working together on common challenges reflected in your customer-driven agenda simply strengthens working relationships.
Purpose-driven interaction that echoes current business goals makes this gathering even more productive for everyone.
And, everyone not at the meeting wants to know what happens the minute the meeting adjourns. Three steps can ensure your member interaction is maximized during the meeting as well as fuels the necessary customer follow-up.
- Produce and review account profiles in advance
- Make customer and executive connections during meeting
- Debrief on-site before jetting away
Create account profiles prior to your customer advisory council meeting.
About 3 weeks before your customer advisory council meeting, account teams should prepare a 1-page account profile. It can have the standard fare info – revenue and services provided, active operational issues, and upcoming site visit schedule. To unlock customer collaboration, account teams find the advisory board meeting more fruitful when they provide details on
- what the customer wants to know about your company
- who they want to meet and talk with while at the meeting as well as
- “asks” or data that the account team is seeking plus any recognition to be reinforced
A complete set of customer profiles should be given in soft and hard copy to the sponsoring company Leadership Team. It makes great airplane reading en route.
The first order of business in your on-site rehearsal is an account review.
With a slide that has photos of all members, talk about the hot buttons for each account.
- What do they want to know from the company – identify what’s the answer and which one of you will convey the information
- Who do they want to meet – whether it’s other customers or other executives, assign the respective matchmakers
- What are the “asks” – whether you need a date set for a C-level briefing or a reference, assign the go-to person. If recognition is in order – personal, professional, or corporate – be sure the whole team is on-point to add their thank you or praise.
With all the assignments distributed, there will be focus and energy with board member interactions. Throughout your conversations and sidebar gatherings, the goal is to create reciprocal value that can be leveraged for the customer and your business. The sheer consistency of the Leadership Team ensuring connections are made and answers are being sought or have been provided impressively signals commitment to the customer.
As soon as members depart the meeting room, convene your team.
After you discuss the overarching takeaways and action items for the customer advisory board, return to the photo lineup of members and dive into the business issues for each customer account. Action items may surface from
- observations during the meeting to add clarity where confusion was perceived
- sidebar conversations about internal logjams that need to be cleared or asks that are being sidelined without resolution of intersecting issues, as well as
- everyone’s perspectives on which accounts are on a path to get into or out of “operational jail”
This is problem identification not problem solving. And, the clincher is – the account-specific action item recap has to hit the desk of the account team owners within 24 hours to take advantage of the outside-in perspective you’ve just received. That way, companies can stay in sync with the customer’s expectations for follow-up and closure.
Your Customer Advisory Board members are spending time and effort to provide guidance for your business. Your company is expending considerable resources – money and Leadership Team commitment. Attending to the detail steps to set member interaction goals for your Advisory Board invigorates the interaction and makes it as effective as it is efficient to drive a return on the investment for all.