If your customer-driven agenda for your Customer Advisory Board is like most customer council meetings, customers were engaged and you are not lacking customer feedback.  Some companies are awash in data and don’t take time to read the tea leaves.  Others recognize the half-life of the information and quickly jump into action.

Consider these 3 steps to make the most of the customer advisory board conversation.

1. Create a visual of the customer guidance

bbbbA word cloud  can be a useful step.  Importantly, don’t wait for the final notes to be created to render your conversation.    What do the verbatim comments from your meeting survey reveal?  This can be created within hours after your meeting concludes. Once your minutes are complete, create another word cloud and compare the two.

2. Get everyone in on the takeaways for your company

The company delegates at your meeting are not there as part of the room décor.  What are they hearing and learning?

  • Hand out index cards for leadership and other company attendees to record the so-what of each session.
  • Collect them and sort them by topic.

Where there’s redundancy, there’s gold for follow-up.

And, don’t be surprised if your customers get in on the act.  Once they see what the sponsoring company is doing, they may submit their own cards – now, that’s really golden feedback.

3. Harness the action items for prompt follow-up.

The best practice is for the action items to be clearly articulated during the meeting.  Given the ebb and flow of the customer dialogue, it may be difficult to decipher clear trends.  Usually the big issues are obvious, but there may be nuanced discussion that is also important.

Find time to take a time-out among the leadership team.

  • A leadership team caucus during one of the breaks in the customer advisory board meeting is a good opportunity to calibrate views and gain consensus.
  • Daily caucuses are recommended – before customer feedback roundtables – to calibrate what the sponsoring company has heard.
  • The meeting closes with the agreed to action items and consensus between sponsoring company and the members.

And, it’s especially effective to hold a customer advisory board conference call within a month to share the priority the company set to pursue the action items.

The real challenge is managing the action items – but that’s a future blog.

Your Customer Advisory Board members are spending time and effort to provide guidance for your business.  Your company is expending considerable resources – money and Leadership Team commitment.  Attending to the detail steps to leverage customer feedback from the meeting enables a return on the investment for all.

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