Virtual meetings are the way of the world at the moment and Customer Advisory Boards serve as a strong asset for those looking to drive ongoing engagement with a select group of clients. Below are some things to consider as you think about whether to build an Advisory Board and host some virtual sessions while we wait for the vaccine.
Make a Commitment.
While you are initially focused on getting clients to come to the first Customer Advisory Board session, it is critical to enter the commitment to an Advisory Board as something that you wish to sustain. It takes two meetings to establish trust in a group and from there you really start to reap the rewards of your commitment to your clients. If you consider Customer Advisory Boards as one-off events, they will fail.
Recruit a Valued Group of Peers.
Compensation isn’t required and is difficult to deliver in a way that most customers can accept. So, forget about compensation and focus on the things that have longer term value to your customers. First, a strong peer group that they cannot build on their own; second, an ability to influence and impact your company’s strategy; third, best practice sharing and new insights.
Kill the Sales Pitch.
Recently an executive told us that he was sick of companies hosting Customer Advisory Boards and then talking at him for 2 days straight. This is where a third party can help you out. Find a neutral third party – like Farland Group – that can help you to shape the content for the board meeting and train the executive presenters so that the meeting is truly advice-seeking and not a veiled sales pitch.
Listen and Change.
Clients do not want to tell you the same things over and over to have nothing change. Work to drive the change that your clients seek. Your clients vote with their time and they will stop coming if they feel that your company isn’t listening and responding to their counsel.
Extend the Insights Beyond the Board.
Through working with a third party or a strong internal content partner, use the insights shared from the meeting to develop new thinking for your broader client base. A Customer Advisory Board is a significant investment, and you need to make sure that you gain the return on that investment by leveraging the content to create a broader set of outcomes and discussions.