Customer experience is one of the hottest topics in marketing today. For all companies, getting their arms around what makes a good customer experience is an imperative. But designing and shaping a model that works, and finding a lever to get traction at a strategic level provides both challenge and opportunity for marketing leaders to tackle.
As Jane Hiscock recently shared in her blog post on how to address the challenge, in a series of 50 interviews with leading Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) and Chief Information Officers (CIOs), we found that more than 85 percent of their companies are struggling with the question of how to innovate their current customer experience models. Many of them have a range of tools and tactics, but are unsure of how to make some bold or impactful moves to push their customer experience program to the next level.
We have found with B2B companies one of the most effective tools to push the envelope on your customer experience model and specifically to create a deliberate customer listening strategy is the Customer Advisory Board. Here’s a few reasons why:
- Leadership – they start at the top. Customer Advisory Boards (CAB) are by design led from the top and require executive commitment and involvement to make them successful. This has several implications. Most importantly it signals to your strategic customers just how important it is to your company to get your arms around their needs, their ideas and their success. It also lets the company know that focus on the customer experience is serious business, worthy of executive attention and resources. This filters across other customer efforts and becomes imbedded in the culture over time.
- Conversation – a systematic channel for listening. From your clients’ lips to your ears – CABs provide one of the most effective channels available for listening to your most senior strategic clients, which is a core prerequisite to an innovative client experience model. The rigor around a well-executed CAB builds the conduit for conversation, and the trust to make it insightful, strategic and action-oriented. The peer discussions that ensue in the course of the meetings increase the benefits of listening exponentially.
- A roadmap – they provide a path for what’s most important to the customers who matter most. Customers who engage with you over time through a CAB will give you all of the insight you need to understand not only what is important to them now, but how to shape your company and your strategic direction to enhance and enrich their experience going forward. And those clients who are part of your CAB are by design your most important – what better way to refine and deepen your customer experience program than a focus on your top relationships?
- A platform – they enable testing and tracking of what works and what’s needed. CABs represent a powerful platform to test – both implicitly and explicitly – where your efforts at managing and enhancing the customer experience across the company are working well, and where you still may have gaps you don’t know about. Candid feedback in a trusted setting is true gold to marketers trying to innovate customer experience.
- A foundation – a basis to build and enhance your program elements. The principles behind a successful CAB – including co-creation, active listening and taking action on advice – provide a blueprint for how to enhance and strengthen your other customer experience activities. Inventory your programs and activities with your clients and see how consistent they are with these principles. As you start to get results from your strategic advisors through the CAB, you will have fuel to drive change with others using the same principles.
If you want to jumpstart your customer experience program in a way that gains attention and moves the needle with your most strategic customers, consider a Client Advisory Board.