Customer Advisory Board Dictionary
Looking for a primer on Customer Advisory Boards?
All action items from an in-person advisory board meeting are compiled and tracked in an action tracker file, with the action item, timeline, internal owner, and next steps.
A technique for dividing the CAB during an in-person meeting into smaller working groups, to collaborate on a challenge and then report the outcome back to the board.
The customer advisory board charter includes the key board design decisions and formalizes them into one document to use for internal alignment and as a critical document in the advisory board member recruitment phase. The key design decisions include mission, objectives, member tenure, member benefits, membership costs, board member responsibility, and host company responsibilities.
Client Advisory Board
A client advisory board is another name for a customer advisory board.
Client Advisory Council
A client advisory council is another name for a customer advisory board. Certain industries like financial services tend to use the term “client” over “customer.”
Customer Advisory Board
A customer advisory board brings together your most important customers several times a year to discuss industry trends and challenges, product development, emerging needs and problems that need solving. The customer advisory board members rely on the host company’s products and services and have a vested interest in seeing the host company’s products improve and thrive. A well-managed customer advisory board provides high-impact value and guidance resulting in: deepening relationships with top accounts, getting strategic feedback and new product ideas, gaining better alignment internally and with your customers’ perspective, improving customer satisfaction, increasing customer advocacy, referrals and engagement, building thought leadership, and driving new sales revenue.
Customer Advisory Council
A Customer Advisory Council is another name for a Customer Advisory Board.
The customer advisory board 80:20 rule means allowing the customer members to speak 80% of the time while the host company employees speak 20% of the time. Sticking to the 80:20 rule is a best practice to gain the most benefit from your advisory board.
The customer advisory board engagement timeline provides the engagement touchpoints, including in-person meetings, quarterly virtual meetings, working group meetings, or any ad-hoc webinars or other special meetings.
As part of the opening of a customer advisory board meeting, CAB members introduce themselves and describes their roles within their companies, their current internal initiatives and programs, pain points and the current challenges, opportunities and threats they see in the marketplace. This session enables members to understand the challenges shared each other, and begin to initiate potential shared solutions, discuss best practices or recommend resources or vendors to help solve such challenges.
Executive Advisory Board
An executive advisory board is another name for a customer advisory board, highlighting that its members are c-level or executive level customers.
The Executive Sponsor provides high level direction, input and an executive face to the advisory board program. You will need an Executive sponsor perhaps at C-level or SVP level, depending on your organization to provide overall direction and backing, to secure funding, to settle disagreements, to provide internal credibility, and otherwise serve as the internal lead on the CAB initiative.
The facilitation plan for an advisory board meeting session provides the session structure, format, flow and plan to achieve the session goals and objectives. The facilitation plan also includes gamification that will be used.
The client advisory council facilitator manages discussions at virtual or in-person meetings to achieve session goals, keep entire agenda on track, and ensure objectivity and fairness in exchanges. In addition, the facilitator is an expert in facilitation techniques and manages insight capture.
Ideal Member Profile
The ideal member profile is a list of criteria for advisory board members to vet nominees and ensure that all members fit the profile that is in line with the advisory board’s overall objectives and mission.
Interim Strategy Call
Conference call or webinar with CAB members held in-between in-person customer advisory board meetings. Although call subjects can include follow-ups from previous face-to-face meetings, status on action items or topics that were not able to be completed previously due to time constraints, the call should have a central ‘strategic’ topic of interest to all the members.
Interview Discussion Guide
The advisory board in-person meeting interview discussion guide lists the potential agenda topics (5-6 topics) in a document. To help shape the in-person meeting, use the discussion guide document to conduct 30-minute interviews with each advisory board member.
Master Meeting Deck
All advisory board in-person or virtual meeting session content is in one master PowerPoint deck, including any dry run rehearsal slides.
The advisory board meeting agenda provides the flow and details of content at in-person meetings and during quarterly calls or working group calls. A typical 1.5-day advisory board in-person meeting agenda begins with a welcome reception the evening before, followed by a full day of sessions and an evening networking/social activity and dinner. The next day is a half day of sessions. In addition to the introductions and company strategic vision session, there are 4-5-member discussion sessions.
Post in-person advisory board meeting take some time with the internal host company employees at the meeting to gather their key takeaways, insights, action items and what worked well and what didn’t. Make sure all the clients have left the meeting room or aren’t still around!”
Meeting Kit / Meeting Booklet
The advisory board meeting booklet is created for the in-person meeting and includes a welcome letter, agenda, facilitation tips for members, member bios, host company bios, and external consultant bios.
Member Feedback Forms
The CAB member feedback form is a survey for CAB members to complete, providing scores on various criteria in a quantitative section and answering qualitative questions like “what would you change for next time?”.
Member Nomination Form
The CAB member nomination form is a standardized way to collect CAB member nominees internally from the account management and sales teams, with all necessary information to vet potential nominees. The form should also include the ideal member profile and CAB theme.
Member Ranking Criteria
When evaluating CAB members for rotation out or retirement from the CAB, establish member ranking criteria to score existing members – we suggest scoring members on engagement and value of contributions. Once scored, there will be a quantitative measure to determine who to rotate off the board.
Member-driven content means that all CAB meeting agenda and session content is created based on input and prioritization from the customer members, which is mutually beneficial to both CAB members and the host company.
CAB membership term or tenure is typically 12 to 24 months (maximum), allowing for one, two or three in-person meetings and other interim activities like quarterly virtual calls and working group sessions.
A non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also known as a confidentiality agreement, is a legal contract between at least 2 parties that outlines confidential information and knowledge the parties wish to share or restrict at customer advisory board meetings. Your customer’s organizations may require an NDA for participation as a board member. We recommend relying on existing master NDAs that are already in place with each customer.
Same as member nomination form.
The CAB in-person meeting note taker captures details of discussions per session for the purpose of producing a meeting summary.
During in-person customer advisory board meetings, observers are host company employees who are attending the meeting to capture key insights and listen to the customer members, as opposed to leading a session or facilitating the meeting.
On-Site Prep Meeting
This on-site prep meeting or dry run or rehearsal is internal only and occurs for 2.5 – 3 hours before the opening welcome reception, the day before the full day of sessions. The purpose is to review all member attendees, agenda and planned discussions.
Partner Advisory Board
A partner advisory board (PAB) is like a customer advisory board, except that the host company brings together their top channel partners, such as system integrators, solutions providers, OEMs, or others who build, resell or otherwise incorporate the company’s products into their own offers.
A well designed and executed CAB enables and encourages peer exchange between advisory board members, separate from the 80/20 rule that refers to the speaking balance between sponsoring company and members.
Power to Convene
A host company’s “power to convene” is the ability to attract the right group of customer advisors to the board based on unique and compelling value proposition and objectives that are mutually beneficial to the host company and the advisory board members.
Relevant pre-reading for an advisory board in-person meeting may include a blog post, whitepaper, survey results, product collateral that is relevant to one of the meeting sessions and is sent in advance to CAB members prior to the in-person meeting.
The CAB Program Manager is responsible for all phases of the board management, including agenda preparation and all member communications. In addition, the CAB Program Manager is responsible for the logistics of the meetings, sending meeting reminder notices, securing requested information and preparing the minutes of the meeting. The CAB Program manager works with the Executive Sponsor, Steering Committee and external consultants like Ignite Advisory Group and the event logistics teams to execute on the CAB program plans.
During the customer advisory board member recruitment phase, the first steps are to create a list of pre-vetted individuals based on the advisory board objectives and the ideal member profile. A recruiter is assigned per member nominee to extend the invitation to join the board, in a customized and personalized way. The recruiter should be the most senior executive internally that has the best relationship with the board member nominee.
Recruitment A and B List
As part of the recruitment phase, it’s important to force rank the CAB member nominees, in an A and B list, to extend invitations to join the CAB in waves, starting with the A group.
The process of determining the right advisory board nominees, preparing recruitment documentation and the advisory board charter, and extending invitations to join the board. Customer advisory board recruitment happens year round with rotating some members off the board every year and members leaving the board due to change in role or company.
The return on investment or benefit of the investment in a customer advisory board can be measured in many ways and can impact many areas of the business, such as marketing, sales, customer loyalty, innovation, and market intelligence. Success metrics may include incremental revenue, renewals, referrals, new product ideas or enhancements, success stories and testimonials, beta testers, and more.
A session format in which each person around the U-shaped table at an in-person meeting or on a virtual call takes a turn answering a question.
The seating plan file contains the assigned seating for all advisory board meeting attendees. Ignite recommends U-shaped seating as the ideal set up (ideal for the average sized board of 12-15 members).
The first steps in session planning is to determine the topic, assign an internal session leader, and establish the goals or objectives for the session.
The advisory board in-person meeting session owners share the company’s point of view on a single topic, summarize the session at the end, and take ownership of insights gathered and action items coming out of the meeting, internally.
Session Owner Instructions
Ignite coaches session leaders with various best practices prior to an in-person meeting. Instructions and tips include to state why the session is important to the host company and the board members, be seated during the session to enable conversations to flow, and to summarize the key insights and next steps at the end of the session. And, as always, we emphasize that all session leaders stick to the 80:20 rule – let the customer members speak 80% of the time.
Session Key Takeaways Form
The session key takeaways form is for host company employees to capture key insights and potential action items per session, in real time, at in-person customer advisory board meetings. The information is included in the final meeting report.
During a 1.5-day CAB in-person meeting, Ignite recommends hosting a networking or social/ team building activity after the first full day of meetings. CAB members continue to network and build relationships during the more relaxed environment of the social activity.
The CAB steering committee includes key functional leads that are kept in the loop and engaged for counsel, reinforcing direction and importance of the CAB. This need not be a formal committee per se, but you will need the participation of key functional leads who will be kept in the loop throughout the process and prevailed upon for counsel and guidance of the overall direction of your CAB.
The first morning of the CAB in-person meeting includes welcome and introductions, followed by a company strategic vision overview for 30 minutes. The objective of the strategic vision session is to educate advisory board members on the host company’s strategy so the members can become informed advisors for the in-person CAB meeting. By giving members an “inside track” into the host company’s strategic vision and the decisions the company’s executives currently face, it will lay the foundation for a very productive advisory board meeting.
A sub-committee, also known as a working group, is a subset of members from the customer advisory board that produce deliverables in-between in-person meetings. The sub-committee requires a charter, structure and dedicated chairs. The CAB members volunteer to join the sub-committee. Quarterly calls and updates are planned and scheduled in advance.
Subject Matter Expert
These are representatives from the various business lines, product groups, or sales teams who can help develop and guide specific content of your CAB activities.
Success metrics measure the outcome and impact from a customer advisory board. For the first year of an advisory board, good metrics to measure success can be based on establishing the program and creating a foundation for ongoing engagement (charter, communication plan, right members recruited, etc.). Once the board has gained momentum in year 2 and beyond and has greater impact on the company strategy, metrics to measure may include: incremental revenue, renewals, referrals, new product ideas or enhancements, success stories and testimonials, beta testers, and more.
CAB tenure is another term for membership duration, the duration of time member’s serve on an advisory board. At the end of the tenure, the CAB membership can be extended or the member can be rotated off the board.
The customer advisory board theme is a statement that reflects a journey or transformation your company will go on with your clients. The theme is compelling and unique to your company, enabling you with the “power to convene” to assemble the members of the customer advisory board.
Types of Customer Advisory Boards
A customer satisfaction advisory board is focused on the customers’ overall use of the product or service with the goal of assuring that they remain satisfied with its performance at a ground level.
A product/solution roadmap board has a longer-term purpose, which is to help shape the development and evolution of products and services. The discussions are mostly about where customers’ operations are headed, what needs are arising, where existing solutions may fall short, how customers see their businesses one or two years out.
A strategic customer advisory board is concerned mainly with high level, longer term strategic issues that potentially affect both you and your customers. Naturally this type of board is best suited to situations where you and your customers’ fates are intertwined, where your product/service/relationship is a critical part of their business. These boards also tend to provide the most value and impact to the host company.
The advisory board welcome reception opens the board meeting in a relaxed environment, enabling all advisory board attendees to mingle, network and enjoy some food and beverages in a venue.
A working group, also known as a sub-committee, is a subset of members from the customer advisory board that produce deliverables in-between in-person meetings. The working group requires a charter, structure and dedicated chairs. The CAB members volunteer to join the working group. Quarterly calls and updates are planned and scheduled in advance.