Customer Advisory Board Key Challenges

Many companies have failed to create and manage a successful Customer Advisory Board.

Through our experience working with over 300 Customer Advisory Boards and Partner Advisory Boards engagements for leading B2B companies, Ignite Advisory Group has gathered best practices needed for a best-in-class advisory board. That experience has also revealed many common pitfalls and challenges. And our team of CAB experts ensure our customers bypass these stumbling blocks.

Trouble can come from within the sponsoring company or the advisory board member. The following graphic depicts the top challenges that are typically encountered as Customer Advisory Boards evolve.

CAB challenges web

Company Challenges – Avoid these Pitfalls!

Below are some of the common situations we encounter – and offer the beneficial learning when dealt with successfully.

1. Overlook the Customer Advisory Board as a long-term investment

A successful Customer Advisory Board evolves over time and enriches the reciprocal value for both parties. Any other short-term focus underestimates the long-term Customer Advisory Board value.

2. Uneven peer group

A Customer Advisory Board that works well has members that consider themselves to be “birds of a feather” and leads to engaging dialogue. They have the same level of responsibility and share perspectives from similar experiences. Mixing members of various levels of responsibility often creates barriers to open and lively discussion. 

3. Lackluster agenda, content and haphazard follow-up

Not taking the time to develop a member-driven agenda for the Customer Advisory Board meeting can lead to member disconnects or downright disinterest. Ignite Advisory Group finds members are more engaged if they are directly involved in the agenda creation process.

Following up with members on what was heard at the Customer Advisory Board meeting via a meeting summary, and conference calls fosters integrated communication. Robust focus on a disciplined prioritized action items list telegraphs attention being paid to topics of interest and reflects progress that is likely to evolve new topics for the next meeting.

4. Glossing over insights

Taking stock immediately after a Customer Advisory Board meeting is often skipped as executives scatter to make flight connections. After spending a few days together, there is no substitute for fresh insights about your business and your individual member’s business. And there’s no better time to launch associated action items.

5. Narrow perspective on the Customer Advisory Board’s impact

Focusing on the financial impact of a Customer Advisory Board is important and high-impact Customer Advisory Boards typically achieve a higher CAGR compared to peer customers. However, there may be greater qualitative influence gained that takes your reciprocal value proposition to another level.

Customer Advisory Board Member Challenges

Vocal, engaged customers that offer compelling counterpoints or pithy insights are invaluable. The pitfalls described below are troublesome for your Customer Advisory Board and, potentially, your business. All the scenarios described below requiremaking lemonade to navigate the situation.

1. Limited or no participation during board meetings

The only thing that makes this situation worse is not evaluating it and taking no action. There’s a delicate balance between the value the member provides in the meeting, and the value to your business.

2. Limited interaction with other members and company executives

It is often hard to understand why members don’t jump into the conversation. And, it’s even more distressing when you don’t observe them networking with their peers. At this stage, an inspection and possibly an intervention is needed.

3. Erratic participation in work streams

Work streams or subcommittees spawned by the in-person meeting are the rocket fuel of Customer Advisory Boards. Random participation by members also must be addressed to ensure consensus on important issues.

4. Dominate all discussions

Board members with strong personalities and are very vocal can tend to dominate discussions at Customer Advisory Board meetings. This naturally, prohibits an engaging dialogue among all board members. Importantly, the sponsoring company is unable to hear representative member views.

5. Not so hidden personal agendas

Some members emerge that have accepted a board seat for their own personal benefit. There are likely to be mixed signals or a totally different persona surfaces that does not add value to your company or other members.

These situations whether company issues or member behaviors are often politically and emotionally charged dynamics that require expert handling. Ignite Advisory Group works hard to mitigate their impact on your Customer Advisory Board. Established processes call for periodic review to fend off, or skillful disarming during a meeting.

Learn more about how to bypass challenges for your Customer Advisory Board.

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What Our Customers Are Saying

“I couldn’t be happier with the investment we made in our Customer Advisory Board and Ignite AG!”

Matt Moynahan
Arbor Networks
Serving the world’s top telecommunication carriers

“Ignite AG was invaluable in helping us engage with top business development executives from the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, enabling us to enter a new market. Also, their meeting facilitation expertise is unrivaled.”

Margaret Molloy
Former Chief Marketing Officer
Gerson Lehrman Group

“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.”

Alison Lutjemeier
Sr. Manager, Customer Advisory Board
Adobe Systems, Digital Marketing BU

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