Over 40 customer advisory board practitioners attended the annual Customer Advisory Board.org conference December 5, 2017 in San Mateo, CA. CAB professionals from Forrester, Oracle, Adobe, Transunion, Pindrop and more shared customer advisory board best practices, challenges, tips, and solutions. Below is a recap of the various speakers.

Customer Obsession Leads to Stronger Customer Relationships and Revenue

The day kicked off with Laura Ramos, VP, Principal Analyst, Forrester Research, discussing the evolution of the B2B CAB from customer advisory to advocacy.  Being customer obsessed is about putting customers at the center of your operating model to empower customer engagement and advocacy. Customer advisory boards are the “pinnacle of your advocate experience” to gain feedback on customer experience, set offering direction, create new business opportunities, co-sell/co-market, joint venture exploration, and strengthen customer relationships.

Start, Evolve or Retire a Customer Advisory Board?

A successful customer advisory board program requires continuous assessment and evolution as business needs change, shared Oracle’s Sonang Kim, Director, Executive Boards. Key questions to consider for your program: Does your customer advisory board align to business needs? Do you have strong executive sponsors/stakeholders? Do you have the right customer member profile? Based on the prior questions, what is the best course of action, start a new advisory board? or evolve or retire an existing advisory board?

Determining CAB ROI and Closing the Feedback Loop with Customers

Lauren Johnson, Digital Marketing Customer Advisory Board Program Manager at Adobe, talked about customer advisory board ROI. Some of Adobe’s ROI and KPIs include: internal/external satisfaction rates, engagement rate, CAB member retention rate, % of issues resolved and investment. The right CAB membership impacts ROI – What persona are you targeting? What customers do you need in the room? Closing the customer feedback loop begins with lots of planning and prep work prior to in-person meetings…and lots of follow through post-meeting (feedback tracking system, quarterly calls, online community, ad-hoc follow up emails).

Top Customer Advisory Board Challenges and Strategies to Overcome Them

Transunion’s Jennifer Kaczmarczyk, Senior Manager, Product Marketing, Healthcare Solutions, highlighted how to best address top customer advisory board challenges and constraints. Selecting the right members is a top challenge – setting and sticking to recruitment criteria is a must. Some ideas to gain buy-in from key stakeholders on objectives and success measures are: create a scorecard, host monthly steering committee meetings, provide discussion abstracts for agenda sessions, have an onsite pre-meeting with the exec team, and maintain a post-meeting action tracker. Jennifer also discussed finding the ideal time and place for in-person meetings, securing attendance at meetings, creating the right content, onsite meeting management, capturing meeting feedback, keeping members engaged, and hosting quarterly webinars.

An Expert Customer Advisory Board Facilitator Makes All the Difference at CAB Meetings

Gavin Nathan, Founder of Customer Advisory Board.org, spoke about the importance of effective facilitation at customer advisory board meetings to increase CAB member engagement and drive better insights. A skilled facilitator enables and propels forward all aspects of customer advisory boards, from determining meeting objectives and program metrics, to interviewing CAB members for agenda development and coaching session owners – in addition to facilitating meetings and ensuring action items are captured and executed. As we always emphasize, the facilitator must ensure the 80/20 rule and open dialogue – let CAB members speak 80% of the time.

Strategies to Recruit C-Level Members to a Customer Advisory Board

Pindrop’s Senior Marketing Manager, Allyson Houser, provided processes and tips to recruit the right members to a customer advisory board. Developing an ideal member and account profile is critical, along with creating a process and following the plan. Having the most senior stakeholder personally extend the invitation to join the CAB is helpful – Pindrop’s CEO, Vijay Balasubramaniyan invites target members to join their customer advisory board.  Allyson also mentioned unique CAB experiences that worked: hosting their CAB at the same time as the Pindrop board of directors meeting (they had access to board member John Chambers of Cisco, as a guest speaker), Pindrop HQ office visit and employee Q&A for CAB members, hiring external facilitators (Ignite Advisory Group), and having a fun networking activity (Porsche driving experience).

See you at next year’s Customer Advisory Board.org conference! For more customer advisory board best practices, take a look at our customer advisory board resources center, blog, and CAB Manager Training and CAB Facilitator Training.

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Ignite Advisory Group is the leading global authority on Customer Advisory Boards and Customer-Led Boards. Ignite’s proven methodology for managing and evolving Customer Advisory Boards includes a 4-stage process, encompassing 48 deliverables and measured by 20 metrics to deliver a clear ROI. To learn more about Ignite, visit our website, read our blogs, and follow us on LinkedIn. To find out how your company can benefit from Ignite’s CAB methodology and process, contact us today.

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