Customer Advisory Boards -- lessons learned and best practices?

DougCaviness
DougCaviness VP, B2B Strategy & PartnershipsMember | Scholar ✭✭

Have you stood up a Customer Advisory Board (CAB) to shape your company's strategic direction, particularly around product, go-to-market and service delivery?

I'm interested in hearing learnings and best practices around CABs, and would be especially interested to hear what business benefits companies are seeing from their CABs.

Best Answers

  • LauraFay
    LauraFay VP & Managing Director, Research & Advisory Member | Guru ✭✭✭✭✭
    Answer ✓

    Hi @DougCaviness

    Customer Advisory boards take on many forms across the industry. I can tell you that the product management community leverage them as one of many sources of input to their strategic and release specific roadmaps. In my most recent offer and pricing survey, 46% of PM teams report leveraging Custom Advisory boards as a key source of input. 7 other sources of input were ported at higher levels.

    Customer feedback is crucial wherever you can get it, so in that context it's beneficial. Care to be taken to not let the CAB become simply a method of catering to the needs of a handful of customers represented by the CAB and paying the opportunity cost for the rest of the customer base.

  • GailPropson
    GailPropson Director, New Business Development Founding Partner | Scholar ✭✭
    Answer ✓

    Hi @DougCaviness,

    We have no direct research on Customer advisory boards. However, one of our consulting partners has helped a number of organizations create CAB's. And I am sure they have some data about the success of creating a CAB.

    I would be happy to connect you.

    Gail

  • AlexanderZiegler
    AlexanderZiegler Program Director, Training & Skills Founding Member | Expert ✭✭✭
    Answer ✓

    I agree that overall a CAB is a great source of information, but there is as mentioned also the challenge of getting feedback from a relatively small amount of repeating clients. Our experience is to use the CAB and listen. You can then build on this feedback: dig into data inside your company and see if you can confirm the feedback of the CAB, or if industry numbers help and/or if TSIA numbers confirm the CAB. We also had a case where we had great feedback (and we were sure it was valuable and correct), but we added additional research (1:1 phone calls with Clients + Surveys) to re-confirm the statements of the CAB.

  • Neal Hatton
    Neal Hatton Member
    Answer ✓

    I think participant selection is important for advisory boards, and they require a leader with a dynamic and positive personality.

    • Avoid having customers on the board who are just complainers; the participants need to be coached that the feedback must be provided in a constructive and positive manner. Otherwise the board meetings degrade into a complaint-fest.
    • Each board meeting should start with a quick summary of what was done with the feedback provided at the last meeting, It's OK to reject some of the ideas - be transparent and honest with the dialog.
    • There is a tendency to want to staff these boards only with big customers, but if you do that, you'll fall into the trap that LauraFay talks about avoiding her earlier post. Look for a diverse makeup to the board to get more balanced feedback.

Answers