Customer Advisory Board Approach

Leading a high-impact Customer Advisory Board requires commitment and dedication from both the sponsoring company and from the member participants.

Start by Building Reciprocal Value

The core value proposition for a Customer Advisory Council is mutually beneficial collaboration that results in reciprocal value. And, that only happens with a customer-driven design.  With Ignite Advisory Group best practices, desired customer outcomes shape the charter, and are refined through member interviews and insights that are eventually woven into the agenda.  Meeting facilitation deftly engages members and ensures active listening by the sponsoring company’s leadership team throughout the board meeting.

Take a Long-Term View with your Client Advisory Board

A customer advisory board is not a one-off meeting to find out what’s keeping your customers up at night this quarter.  A long-term perspective is important as Boards evolve over time in roughly this fashion and pace.

  • First year – Mutual understanding of industry issues with early evidence of collaboration value
  • Second year – Business insights grow and plans evolve to resolve hurdles to industry issues and modify business practices by all parties
  • Third year – Strategic planning is well-rooted with interim sub-committees completing multiple initiatives and issue complexity increasing as well

Plan for Productive Board Dynamics

Customer members typically commit to joining a Customer Advisory Board because they are invested in the sponsoring company’s success – they want to learn more from company leadership, but they also want to offer their guidance on what the company should do more of, less of, and even stop doing.

Ignite Advisory Group finds that board engagement dynamics are characterized by the level of conversation by members and by the leadership team.  The illustration below depicts the patterns that can occur.

  • The first two models are dubbed “vendor” because the sponsoring company must believe they have to do all or most of the talking to get their points across.  It will always be nearly impossible to progress the dialogue, much less build a trusting, mutually respectful relationship.
  • Naturally, the third peer exchange platform yields the most benefits to both the members and the sponsoring company.  It also requires the most planning and exacting execution.

Vendor 1-Way

Vendor 2-Way

Peer Exchange

Customer Advisory Board Vendor One-Way Dialogue Client Advisory Board 2-Way Dialogue Customer Advisory Board Vendor Becomes a Partner
By presenting 80% of the time, the Sponsoring Company acts as a VENDOR with a 1-way pitch. Members are lucky to snare 20% of airtime VENDOR model persists even with give-and-take discussion pattern as Board limited to responding to sponsoring company’s “talking heads”. When the sponsoring company sets a well-designed agenda, the members lead the discussion and a PEER EXCHANGE occurs. Not only is the sponsoring company perceived as a Partner, Board members also interact with each other during and separate from the board meeting.
This poorly executed Customer Advisory Board has been convened without advance research that identifies thought-provoking topics that members want to discuss. Death-by-PowerPoint results without greater insight into the board members’ business challenges. This board has yet to engage the members. While the agenda touches on challenges that members face, the structure still relies on presentations that inhibit in-depth discussion between members. A lack of trust and facilitated discussions reduces member input and impact. An interactive Customer Advisory Board is productive for all parties. Members are eager to lead the conversation on relevant topics, and share perspectives with illustrative cases. The facilitator ensures that each member’s opinion is heard and company presentations are kept to a minimum to encourage greater member participation.
The vendor struggles to get double-digit meeting attendance. Members may resign or delegate future participation to junior colleagues. Strengthening member relationships is still floundering and the company struggles to gain a quorum for the next meeting. In-between board meetings, members are actively engaged in Subcommittee initiatives that they requested. Attendance is easily gained as this board feels ownership of the outcomes.

For the past decade, Ignite Advisory Group has continuously improved its methodology and gained invaluable Customer Advisory Board best practices by serving leading Customer Advisory Board programs. Tracking customer results over time reveals that Ignite-managed Advisory Boards typically achieve the following results.

  • 95% of executive customers remain on the board
  • 9% increase in new business from customer members by the second year
  • 36% increase in executive customer satisfaction among member organizations
  • 90th percentile average score on member meeting feedback surveys
  • 2x increase in executive Voice of the Customer (VoC) insights gathered

Learn more about creating a more engaging approach for your Customer Advisory Board – whether your board has been launched or not.

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What Our Customers Are Saying

“Running 11 global boards with 200 members is a daunting task. Ignite AG’s outcome based methodologies and extensive best practices give us a dynamic blueprint for Customer Advisory Board success.”

Adobe Customer Advisory BoardAlison Lutjemeier
Group Manager, Customer Success Programs
Adobe Systems, Digital Marketing BU

“The Customer Advisory Board went extremely well. Most customers told me that it was the best Customer Advisory Board of their professional life, period.”

HP Customer Advisory BoardJacques Conand
Product Director, IT Service Management

“Stronger customer relationships from CAB programs is not limited to revenue and retention. Ryder was asked to participate in a member-led industry forum – the only carrier firm to be asked. We see a direct link in how CAB showcases our thought leadership by tackling industry issues that are relevant to members’ businesses.”

Ryder Customer Advisory BoardSamuel Johnson
VP, Global Marketing

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