Customer Advisory Boards: Delivering Client Value through Peer Relationships

In her recent post on CustomerThink, Peers: The Secret Sauce to Advisory Board Success, Roanne Neuwirth shares that

“The formula for a successful customer advisory board is simple, but can be challenging to achieve: it’s all about reciprocal value. You have to create as much value for members as you expect to get out of it yourselves as the sponsoring company.”

This perspective is absolutely spot on.

However, the focus is often on the value the sponsoring organization will receive, and less so on the peer relationships that are forged between members—which is something we see happen as the trust and connection evolves over time. In reflecting on the value that customer advisory boards bring to the members we speak to often, three benefits come to mind.

Extend their network of peer sounding boards.

Customer advisory boards provide unique and safe venues for CXOs to share with each other best practices and lessons learned. For example, a technology leader working to build an agile environment can gain specific advice and perspectives from peers on how they are doing it. Or they may be struggling with vendor issues and look to others who are familiar with their challenges for guidance on how they have tackled similar situations.

Open up a cross-industry perspective that they don’t always have.

Often executives get to know players within their own industry, but cross-industry Boards bring access to peers in very different environments, providing new viewpoints and sometimes even open up potential partnerships. Tom Greene, Chief Information & Business Services Officer for Colgate-Palmolive shared his views on serving on customer advisory boards in a CIO Insight post. Peer access was a key area of importance, “The insights I gain from these conversations, due to the varied backgrounds of the participants, is something I value immensely above and well beyond the goals of the board.”

Deepen engagement with existing partners.

A CIO Board member shared during a regular one-on-one interview we conduct with Board members that she had recently had a two hour telepresence session with a fellow Board member CIO, during which they exchanged ideas. She was quite enthusiastic about the value of the conversation, and the deeper connection that resulted. While they are both from a similar industry and their organizations are existing partners, the two members did not know one another prior to meeting at the Board session – it was the Board that brought them together.

So when considering the value that comes from Customer Advisory Boards, do not forget the benefits experienced by members connecting to each other. Customer Advisory Boards are a crucial tool to fostering true peer relationships and providing the foundation for senior executives to interact with one another – inside and outside the Boardroom.

Related Stories

Dolly Parton and Customer Advisory Boards….Totally Relatable!

Posted on 06.4.2020 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Country music has never been my thing. New age / pop country, maybe sort of, but music by the likes of Dolly Parton did not appeal to me. Simply put, it wasn’t relatable. However, that quickly changed when our Farland  

Continue Reading »

Taking your Customer Advisory Board Meetings Virtual

Posted on 04.13.2020 by in Customer Advisory Boards

As my colleague Camille Antonetti wrote in her recent blog, COVID-required social distancing and stay at home measures have necessitated organizations to shift their in-person events and meetings to virtual platforms. In our work at Farland Group, we have  

Continue Reading »

Customer Advisory Board Charter: Do You Need One?

Posted on 03.5.2020 by in Customer Advisory Boards

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.  

Continue Reading »

The Value of Convening C-Suite Peers: Reaping What You Sow

Posted on 02.1.2020 by in Engagement Strategy, Featured, Featured, Understanding the C-Suite

In our work with Customer Advisory Boards and other executive engagement programs, we have seen firsthand the extent to which C-level executives seek and crave connection to real peers, where they can share stories and gain insights in a safe  

Continue Reading »


Customer Advisory Boards

Customer Advisory Boards are powerful engines of engagement, insight, and business transformation. Make the most of yours.

Meeting Facilitation: Virtual and In-Person Boards » Taking Your Customer Advisory Board Meetings Virtual »

Learn More »

Engagement Strategy

Like any good relationship, customer engagement is a long-term, reciprocal effort. When done well, meaningful engagement leads to better business results, faster.

Engage Your Customers to Help You Stop Pitching » Getting to a Customer Engagement Mindset »

Learn More »

Understanding the C-Suite

Building C-level programs that are meaningful and bring value to you as well as to your c-suite customers is challenging. Veiled sales pitches won’t win the day with this audience. Deliver what executives want: ideas, inspiration, innovation, influence.

Building a C-Suite Client Experience Strategy » Do you Know What Your Customers Value? »

Learn More »