One of the top benefits that Customer Advisory Board (CAB) members report out of participation in a Customer Advisory Board is networking and peer exchange. A key building block of managing a Customer Advisory Board is to develop peer exchange among the Customer Advisory Board members.

One way to look at peer exchange is through a Customer Advisory Board maturity model we have created:

Stage 1: The host company is seen by Customer Advisory Board members as their vendor. The vendor is talking or presenting one way to the Customer Advisory Board members. In this stage, there isn’t enough research done in advance of the most burning topics for the members so the vendor is doing all the talking. There may not be a high percentage of attendance at the advisory board meeting or the members delegate attendance to their junior staff.

Stage 2: There’s more discussion between the vendor and members – members are talking more than in stage 1. Trust by the advisory board members hasn’t yet been developed. The vendor is moving in the right direction by including topics in the agenda that interest the advisory board members. However, lack of facilitated discussion and structure of the agenda doesn’t lead to lots of discussion among members.

Stage 3: Customer Advisory Board members now see the host company as a partner and not just a vendor. When the host company is talking for 20% of the time and members are talking for 80% of the time at an advisory board meeting, the company is headed in the right direction.

In stage 3, the host company has taken the time in advance to find out what are the most relevant topics for advisory board members. There are minimal one-way power point presentations at the CAB meeting. CAB members are engaged and have developed a level of trust with the host company. CAB members are interested in building a mutually beneficial partnership with the host company that is a win-win for the host company and the CAB members over time. CAB members are talking to each other; they are starting to interact with each other outside of CAB meetings to discuss best practices and exchange ideas.

Watch the video below to hear about the CAB maturity stages. A well-designed and managed CAB falls under stage 3: the CAB members view the host company as a partner.

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

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