Customer Advisory Board Charter: Do You Need One?

You’ve stood up your Customer Advisory Board (CAB), recruited your client members, completed a successful CAB meeting and are working through all of the follow-on activities. One of those activities should be to create a Customer Advisory Board Charter. Not all Boards and Councils utilize charters, but we have found them to be invaluable in Customer Advisory Board management.

Charters are effective tools to help create a foundation and set expectations for all Board participants – host company members and client members alike. Charters do not have to be lengthy, but should include basic components:

  • A Board purpose that describes at a high level the objectives of the Board and what the Board remit is.
  • Board membership focuses on the size of the Board, member attributes, and the sort of relationship clients and host companies may have. We also include details on terms of service, changes of professional affiliations, and the parameters for Board members to be in good standing—and the ramifications if they are not.
  • Value to client Board members illustrates some of the benefits of being a Board member including the opportunity to influence strategic direction, access to experts and expertise, and developing and strengthening relationships with Board peers as well as host company executive teams.
  • Responsibilities of Board members lays the ground rules and sets the expectations surrounding communication, contributing to agenda development, and meeting attendance. Similarly, host company executives’ responsibilities include engaging with full candor and honesty, accepting constructive criticism, aiding in the development of Board agendas to deliver value to all, and creating clear and regular lines of communication with client members.

It is important to gain input on the charter from CAB members and then ratify the charter with the Board. The charter should be a living, breathing document – use the charter and revisit the contents yearly. Over time, Board complexions change, the needs of the host company change, and so should the charter to reflect the new parameters.

 

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