Customer Advisory Boards: How Difficult Conversations Drive Change

One of my first jobs out of university was working in the headquarters office of a local business with several locations. In this role, I worked closely with the customer service representatives, and we received feedback, questions, and comments daily – from overwhelmingly positive to some negative.

This business was well-established in the community, so customers would have certain expectations of what the product would be like when it was purchased in-store or arrived at their door. If those expectations were not matched, they were often equal parts disappointed and frustrated. One thing I was appreciative of in this role was that, instead of bottling it up or trashing the company online, customers often provided us with clear, honest, and constructive feedback on their experiences and how they had fallen short of the quality they had experienced in the past. With this kind of feedback, I noticed the team was quick to respond, appreciative of the input, and willing to work with customers to ameliorate any hard feelings. I found that this sort of customer service went a long way to ensure that customers would return to their business.

Similarly, with B2C experiences, providing an avenue for customers to celebrate and express concerns, coupled with swift action, is critical. As a trusted third party for B2B businesses and their customer advisory boards, Farland Group plays a critically important role between the customer advisory board member (the end customer) and our client (their vendor). We aim to provide the right atmosphere for members to express concerns, frustrations, and successes they may have in their dual roles as board members and customers. On occasion, board members will share input with us that they would not share directly with the client, for fear of disrupting the relationship or making waves. By opening up this avenue, they can express their perspectives in a safe, objective environment, and, in turn, we can bring the right scope of information to the client and elevate the actions to a higher level in the organization.

It is important to open up channels for both positive and negative input, as I’ve experienced in my previous role and with Farland Group. While it may not be as pleasant to receive, it is often the tougher feedback along the way that translates into meaningful action and outcomes.

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