A top pitfall of creating a Customer Advisory Board is unrealistic timing. Many times, executives don’t realize that the ideal planning time to implement a Customer Advisory Board is 6 to 8 months, leading up to the inaugural face-to-face meeting. Following that first face-to-face meeting, ongoing engagement and planning for the next meeting takes place year round – this planning, effort and management is what will make your Customer Advisory Board successful.
With all of our customers, we present an overall Customer Advisory Board timeline and follow different phases in the process from design, creation to implementation and management.
Customer Advisory Board timeline phases include:
- Align and Design. This phase includes items like project planning, gaining internal alignment, internal interviews, and finalizing the Customer Advisory Board design. This sets the foundation for the Customer Advisory Board – including creating a Board charter and choosing a theme for the Board – with internal executive alignment. Without a dedicated executive sponsor and commitment from your executive team, your Customer Advisory Board will not work!
- Recruit. A carefully crafted recruitment campaign yields up to 95% acceptance rate for Customer Advisory Board members, in our experience. After having recruitment documentation ready (charter, invitation letter), we recommend force ranking your list of target members and bucketing them into target groups. Assign a recruiter for each member. Ideally, the recruiter is the most senior person that has the closest relationship to the target member. Begin recruitment with the target members at the top of the list before moving onto the 2nd and 3rd target groups.
- Deliver and Launch. This phase includes interviews with members, agenda development, executive reviews and executing on the face-to-face meeting. Read our blog post on member interviews, click here.
- Manage and maintain. Following a face-to-face meeting, ongoing engagement between meetings is critical. Sustaining a Customer Advisory Board is a lot of work and happens year-round with successful Boards. We recommend presenting an engagement plan to members at the face-to-face meeting that sets expectations, frequency of engagement and deliverables. Subcommittees are a great way to maintain ongoing engagement – subcommittees are the rocket fuel of Customer Advisory Boards. Just like planning is required for the Customer Advisory Boards face-to-face meeting, subcommittees require a structure and ongoing work. Subcommittees work well with a charter, objectives and deliverables planned out in advance, as well as a dedicated subcommittee chair/lead.
Watch our video about one of the top pitfalls of Customer Advisory Boards – unrealistic timing and expectations.
Check out the other videos in the series on Why Customer Advisory Boards fail:
Part 1 of 10: It’s Too Much Work
Part 2 of 10: Short Term Thinking
Part 3 of 10: CAB Confusion
Part 4 of 10: No Peer Exchange