Customer Advisory Board Agenda Must-Haves
When it comes to the topic of customer advisory board agendas, there are a lot of questions from customer advisory board (CAB) managers – be they fresh beginners or even experienced veterans. Not only do we at Ignite receive such questions, the topic is a popular one at our training events and other CAB industry events we attend. Most telling, perhaps, of the need for guidance here is that “customer advisory board agenda” is one of the top search topics around customer advisory boards.
The topic is so important, in fact, that we’ll break this blog into 2 parts.
While the content of every customer advisory council meeting will, of course, vary depending on meeting goals and member-desired topics and content (gathered through engaging them before the meeting), here is Part 1 of some “must haves” that should be included in every CAB meeting agenda:
- Prep meeting (internal only): The host company should plan to have an on-site prep meeting before the face-to-face CAB meeting begins. This internal-only meeting not only forces host company attendees to arrive to the meeting on-time, but will be the last opportunity to review session content, facilitation plans and any other meeting notes before being in front of the members themselves. In addition to reviewing meeting content, a review of the host-company participation guidelines should be discussed, as well as a detailed review of each member participant, in order to be clear on their account status, products in use, and any potential sensitive issues that may have impacted them recently.
- Social interaction opportunities: One of the key benefits of any CAB – often the top one, according to member surveys – is the members’ ability to collaborate with each other and host company executive management. While such engagement is inevitably an integral part of the CAB meeting itself, the benefits of informal social interaction cannot be overstated. As such, it is essential that the meeting present ample opportunities for peer networking and social interaction. We recommend a welcome reception be held the night before the meeting takes place, as this will “break the ice” and get attendees comfortable with each other as early as possible. That way, when the actual meeting starts, members won’t be shy about jumping in with their ideas, guidance and feedback. In addition, a nice social event and/or dinner, ideally after day 1 of the meeting, will further deepen personal contacts, and establish on-going relationships after the meeting concludes. Finally, breakfasts, lunches and interim meeting breaks should be provided to further enable personal interaction.
- Welcome session: The meeting itself should be kicked off by none other than the CAB executive sponsor, who is, after all, the “face” of the overall program and chartered with its success. The executive sponsor should personally welcome all customer (or partner) attendees, and review the meeting objectives. If the meeting is not the first in the CAB program, the executive sponsor can also provide the status of the program and of the action items taken from previous meetings or engagements. Finally, the session should include a review by the meeting facilitator of the participation guidelines and ground rules – again so members know that they are encouraged to participate from the get go.
- Introductions: Before any session content be explored, it’s imperative that introductions be made by everyone in the room – CAB member attendees, host company executives and third party consultants. This will not only further familiarize all attendees with each other, but actually force members to speak and be heard at the start of the meeting. For non-initial, on-going meetings, members can not only reintroduce themselves, but provide their initiatives and priorities.
We at Ignite believe these essential elements should be included as part of any productive CAB meeting agenda. Many companies who focus exclusively on actual meeting content but ignore or minimize this content do so at their own peril. By including these elements, the meeting will be most beneficial and productive it can be – and, more importantly, be well received by the attending members themselves.
In Part 2 of this blog, we’ll cover additional must-have agenda elements of the strategy overview, breakout sessions, wrap sessions, and the internal post-mortem.