Customer Advisory Board Best Practices
Ignite Advisory Group is the Leading Global Authority on Customer Advisory Boards and Partner Advisory Boards.
Ignite’s proven methodology and process for managing and evolving customer advisory boards has been developed from completing over 200 engagements for leading B2B companies.
A Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is a marketing program made up of strategic customers who work closely with company executives to provide guidance on corporate strategies, offer input on products and services, and address and create solutions to industry challenges.
Key components for a successful Customer Advisory Board
- Having a compelling theme
- Customer advisory board members who have equal stature to create an environment of peer exchange
- Strong follow up and ongoing management of the customer advisory board, after and in between face-to-face meetings
- Creating a sense of shared future
- Committing to active listening
- Keeping the customer advisory board action oriented
Customer Focus Drives Value
A well-designed and managed Customer or Partner Advisory Board enables B2B companies to:
- Increase understanding of how the company’s products and services benefit customers
- Increase understanding of how to best close product or service gaps and voids
- Validate strategy and gain feedback for new ideas and product development
- Gain internal alignment on customer perspective and go-to-market plans
- Deepen relationships with top accounts
- Increase market intelligence on competitor strategies
- Strengthen customer advocates
The key to Ignite Advisory Group’s innovative and successful approach is structuring Customer Advisory Boards around common interests and concerns — so customers derive as much benefit from participation as the sponsoring company.
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Match Business Need with Board Type
Customer Advisory Boards differ by the type of executive engagement and the premise or theme of the Board. As you consider the best fit for your goals, Ignite Advisory Group experience finds that while there may be thematic crossover among the various Board types described below, they do not change the primary character of a Customer Advisory Board.
1. Customer Satisfaction Boards aim to improve customer satisfaction and ease of doing business.
- Comprised of mid-to-low tier management or, in some cases, actual end users
- Board focus on ensuring customer satisfaction with your offerings and discussion is primarily about how your organization can do that with better offerings, better services/support, and the like.
2. Product or Service Solution Roadmap Boards seek to leverage Advisory Board input on product and solution offerings and road maps
- Comprised of users of the product/service
- Boards designed to garner insight on improving the company’s offerings so they better meet customer needs. Typically these CABs get into deep dive on features, functionality and resulting benefits.
- Often, this Board is organized by product line or line of business.
3. Strategic Boards seek to gain true strategic advisors to steer the business direction for the mutual interest of both parties.
- Comprised of senior level executives
- Focuses on critical issues and opportunities facing the industry that your organization can help its customers address.
- These boards help drive your strategic direction and go-to-market strategy.
- Roadmaps are essential resources and customer satisfaction is important, but the focus is on how the company attains or maintains industry leadership.
- Often, organized by line of business with either vertical or horizontal member slates.
While many consider a Strategic Board to be the most ambitious undertaking, most companies find it is high-impact and productive for both the sponsoring company and its members.
Well-designed and executed Customer Advisory Boards increase executive customer dialogue, improve perceived and real service, as well as generate higher-level sales opportunities.
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