“The internet of things, wearable technology, analytics, social… I’m afraid that we aren’t where the next innovation is coming from…” These words were shared with me earlier today on a call with a CIO who is tasked with leading innovation in a large global financial services organization. But the comment could come from any company large or small as we recognize that disruption and innovation will come from anywhere, and the risk of missing opportunities is higher than ever.
A recent survey of CEOs conducted by IBM showed that many organizations are using customers to disrupt their business models first. Meaning that CEOs are looking for new ways to engage their customers as innovation partners to collaborate and gather direct input. And what is interesting is this is not limited to product advice but 60% of the CEOs interviewed see customers as having significant influence over their whole organizations.
And while CEOs may have this as a mandate, we find that marketers in B2B businesses are still falling behind in their connectedness to customers. And, it isn’t surprising given the demands on the time of these customers, there just are not enough of them to go around. This is one reason that we recommend Customer Advisory Boards as a critical aspect of building strong connections to customers through customer experience and engagement programs. Customer Advisory Boards provide a focused and powerful environment to gain advice and share challenges and solutions in a mutually valuable setting. In addition, these boards are often a place where marketing leaders can access the insights of many of their largest clients without disrupting the internal sales cycle.
CEOs believe in the power of Customer Councils and the IBM study points to them as a significant area of focus for gathering and acting on customer influence. As you think about how your business will connect with and retain connection with your top clients, consider a customer advisory board, it is one of the few effective listening tools that can have marked influence over your business strategy, product direction and even helping you identify the next disruptor.