Many organizers of customer advisory boards start their in-person meetings with a welcome reception or even a seated dinner. This type of social setting limits the executive sponsor to a few remarks as members and sponsoring executives mingle for the evening, catching up on personal and/or professional activities.
In 2016, a best practice you may want to incorporate in your program is to start the customer advisory board agenda on arrival day. For many customer advisory board programs, the first order of business on the first morning of full-day meetings is a company update and member roundtable. For this blog, we will call this type of session the state of the union.
Start your customer advisory board agenda on arrival afternoon
Here’s how some firms are accelerating their ability to unlock customer collaboration with a short state of the union session on arrival day.
- The session runs from 4 to 5:30 PM
- Sponsoring company kicks it off – describing either their big business bets for the coming year, or their fork-in-the-road business dilemmas
- Members follow with their personal updates, and their thumbnail of big bets or fork-in-the-road remarks
A steering committee member recaps the range of learning and observations. Everyone is invited to immediately adjourn to the welcome reception venue.
Benefits of holding state of the union before welcome reception
The state of the union session is classically one of the most powerful sessions of any advisory board meeting – often surfacing unexpected member business challenges. By relegating it to the opening session of the first full-day of the meeting, members and executives are delayed in probing remarks around new business challenges and successes until the first break or even lunch. Consider other benefits of this format –
- It is especially conducive to new member orientation – since newcomers will hear the baseline information exchange, they can move more quickly into networking with their new set of peers
- Promotes higher on-time arrival of members
- Enriches the one-on-one and peer group discussions during the reception
- Since sponsoring company executives are on-site for the internal kickoff review session, they are present to ensure customer introductions and pursue state of the union discussions
- The unvarnished outside-in perspective from this exchange gives session leaders greater awareness about relevance of business needs to underscore and build reciprocal value during the working sessions the following day
But the biggest bonus of all is the opportunity to dive into a working session by 8:15 AM, with a brief acknowledgment of the learning from the prior afternoon. Higher engagement and productivity that results throughout the balance of the meeting allows companies to maximize a customer-driven customer advisory board agenda.
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. Jump starting your time together with an arrival day session to increase the probability to think outside-the-box and drive a stronger return on the investment for all.