Customer Advisory Board Agenda Best Practices

The topic of customer advisory board agendas is one of high interest to most customer advisory board (CAB) managers. In Part 1 of this 2-part blog post, we covered the critical agenda elements of the internal prep meeting, social interaction opportunities, the welcome session and introductions.

While the content of every customer advisory council meeting will vary depending on meeting goals and member-desired topics, here is Part 2 of some “must haves” that should be included in every customer advisory board agenda:

  • Strategy Overview: A key element of most CAB meetings will be to update members on what’s going on within the host company. The key driver here is to present (or review) the company’s top strategic initiatives, and gather member feedback. This should not be a one-way presentation: be honest about bottlenecks, tradeoffs, or ‘fork-in-the-road’ decisions that the host company would sincerely like to collect member opinions. In addition, the strategy overview can include company updates – acquisitions, partnerships, new products or other corporate developments – that the members may have missed, and, just as importantly, answer questions and address the implications on them. This strategy session offers the added bonus of the host company going first in opening up honestly, and encouraging the same from the members for the rest of the meeting. In fact, my colleague, Judy Davis, suggests that this session might be done the day before the full meeting day itself.
  • Breakout sessions: A CAB meeting will not be engaging or successful if it consists exclusively of host company executives presenting PowerPoint slides to the attending customer members. A great way to get members contributing and collaborating – and physically moving about – is by conducting breakout sessions in which they are engaging just with each other on shared industry challenges and potential solutions. Be sure to be clear and specific the breakout timelines, the question at hand, and the desired inputs and outputs. Such breakout sessions are also very highly rated by CAB members.
  • Wrap sessions: At the end of each day, a wrap session summarizes the day’s discussions, findings, key takeaways and potential action items. In addition, any desired changes or course corrections can be discovered and addressed before the meeting ends. For the final, concluding session of the CAB meeting, the next steps of the program should be described, including a timeline of upcoming engagements. By doing so, the participants see what’s coming down the road, so they’ll be ready for it when the invitation comes.
  • Post-mortem (internal only): A post-meeting debrief should take place immediately after the formal meeting close with all host-company attendees and third party consultants — while the meeting content and feedback is fresh in everyone’s minds. The post-mortem should include overall meeting feedback, potential top-priority discoveries and action items, as well as what worked best for the meeting and what can be improved for the next one. In addition, a review of the members themselves can be in order, especially if any were problematic.

Including the essential customer advisory board agenda elements for your CAB meeting described in Parts 1 and 2 of this blog should help ensure the meeting will be the most beneficial it can be to the attending members and the host company alike.

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