Companies apply “customer advisory board”, “client advisory council”, and similar terms to almost any forum involving customer input and interaction. Such a broad definition—“a forum for customer feedback”—causes confusion. Which customers? Feedback about what? Who needs insight? How will they use it?
Customer Advisory Boards are Strategy-Level Sounding Boards
Consider three different levels for customer feedback—product, solutions, strategy. Do you have a clear consensus about which kind of forum you’re trying to create?
Farland Group’s Definition of a Customer Advisory Board
In our minds, a customer advisory board:
- builds relationships between key, senior customers and stakeholders
- meets multiple times a year
- advises on and shapes strategy, product/service direction, and innovation
- fosters an ongoing, collaborative dialogue about the market
It is a strategy-level listening tool and sounding board that offers equal value to both you and participating customers. Your leadership team learns from your c-level customers.
AND a customer advisory board IS NOT a:
- Lead generation tool
- Conference or event
- Focus group
- Research program
- Any type of selling or pitching
- In-depth product testing and discussion
Those discussions misuse your advisors’ time. They undermine the trust, energy, and engagement that are critical to get the most valuable, strategic advice.