[Updated May 14, 2024 with additional resources]

Do you have a customer advisory board charter?

If not, we suggest you take a moment now to start creating your customer advisory board charter. If you haven’t launched a customer advisory board yet and have no charter, ensure that you create the charter first.

If yes, awesome. When was the last time you reviewed or revised the charter? Is it up to speed with your current customer advisory council? We recommend reviewing the Charter annually.

The customer advisory board charter is the most important document that will guide your customer advisory council. It lays out (in writing) the board’s mission and objectives for clarity, internal alignment and buy-in with your executive team. The client advisory board charter also serves as an external-facing overview document for CAB members, and describes the benefits they’ll receive and what (exactly) they’re committing to, the number of planned meetings, their expected tenure, etc. This information is critical in recruiting them to join the board.

What’s in a customer advisory board charter?

Here at Ignite, we have templates for the charter that we use to complete the document for our customers (we also have 100+ templates for all phases of a CAB). We facilitate a strategy and planning workshop with our customer to extract the objectives, mission, and design—with this information, we fully create the charter, including these major elements:

  • Mission, Scope, Objectives

The customer advisory council mission defines your company’s overall strategy and focus for your customer advisory board and how it aligns with what matters most to your company and your customers. Here’s one example:

“To bring together our top customers to solicit feedback and guidance on our offerings, solutions and service levels in order to better meet our customer needs while co-defining the future of scalable and cost-effective Wireless Area Networks.”

The scope may seem similar to the mission, but further narrows down into the type of program the CAB encompasses. For example:

“To provide a forum to share information and gain consensus on enterprise software and IT infrastructure topics. The XYZ Advisory Board will improve our competitive advantage, and serve as a sounding board for XYZ on subjects including company business strategy, new and potential products and services, marketing strategies, etc.”

Internal alignment on CAB objectives and goals is critical. Download our CAB beginner’s guide, covering more details on CAB strategy and objectives. An example of objectives:

1. Discuss opportunities and challenges around enterprise software and IT.

2. Analyze the impact of new technologies and services.

3. Guide the direction of XYZ’s existing and future solutions.

  • Length of Membership

The other day, a CAB program manager from a Fortune500 SaaS company was telling us about her top advisory board challenges. One challenge was that a group of CAB members has been on the board for 9+ years and it was time to refresh the board with new faces. And the company felt awkward kicking these folks out after so much time. We told the CAB program manager to specify a member tenure period, put it in writing in a charter, and share the charter with the board members. CABs require ongoing recruitment and member refresh. The most common tenure periods are 12 months, 18 months, or 24 months.

  • Customer Advisory Board Member Benefits and Participation

 A primary reason your customers will join your board is due to the many benefits they receive. Peer networking and access to your company’s executive team are two benefits that keep members coming back to your CAB.  Spell out the benefits in the charter. Here are 17 member benefits from advisory boards.

Specify member participation cadence by outlining the number of virtual and face-to-face meetings per year. We also include a note about providing detailed meeting reports within certain time frames.

  • Board Member Responsibility, Costs, Nomination

Further clarify board members’ requirements to join and participate, including attending face-to-face meetings, actively participating and allowing for a 30-minute member interview call prior to meetings to help craft the agenda. We highly recommend inserting a note that membership isn’t transferable and the CAB is an exclusive invitation-only board. Include costs covered (and not covered)—airfare, travel costs to and from meetings, lodging, meals and ground transportation.

  • Host Company Roles and Responsibilities

An advisory board will fail without an executive sponsor and executive commitment. In this section, write the names of the executive sponsor, program manager and external consultants (if working with a company like Ignite to help manage or facilitate your board).

Customer Advisory Board Charter Membership Costs

How to create a Customer Advisory Board charter. Charter components to include.

Final Charter Tips

While creating the charter in a simple Word file works, creating a branded graphic design file of the charter is a great idea. Not only is the charter critical for internal alignment and CAB member recruitment, but it also becomes a marketing and PR piece that is visually appealing and in line with your brand.

One common challenge when drafting a charter is gaining executive buy-in for your CAB. This is a must-do for establishing a CAB. The CAB won’t work if there are misunderstandings about the CAB’s purpose. Or if there are disagreements on strategic direction. If you are launching a new CAB, make sure to build a strong business case for the CAB (watch our CAB business case webinar and access a business case template).


Additional Resources

Here are some resources that may be helpful to you:

  • Charter video – In additional to reading this blog post, watch our CAB strategy video on how to create a charter (go to minute 21:20).
  • Example charter – the CustomerAdvisoryBoard.org association has an example CAB charter here.
  • Internal alignment – Watch our CAB strategy video on gaining internal alignment (go to minute 17:11).
  • CAB recruitment is likely the next step on your CAB journey after creating your charter. Watch our webinar featuring Forcepoint about how they effectively recruited Fortune500 executives to their Executive Advisory Board.
  • Schedule a free CAB evaluation with an Ignite CAB expert. Contact us to schedule a call with an Ignite CAB expert. We’ll share recommendations for your advisory board program and a CAB program plan.

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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