Less is Definitely More: The Customer Advisory Board Content Trap

In the scramble to make sure Customer Advisory Board meetings are packed with value for themselves and their clients, most sponsoring companies cannot resist the temptation to over populate their meeting agendas.  On the one hand, there is a desire to make sure that every aspect of the strategy is covered to maximize advice gathering.  On the other, there is the common fear that the room will be quiet, with no one offering their comments or perspectives.  The remedy – most sponsoring companies believe – is to pile on the topics.

Avoid this temptation!  Less content is most definitely more when it comes to meeting agendas if you want insightful dialog, meaningful advice and valuable peer exchange.  Here are some guidelines to consider in shaping your Customer Advisory Board meeting agenda:

  • Quality over quantity.  The most common feedback customers tell us is “next time, have fewer topics and give us more time to talk about them.” Focus on the one or two highest priority areas that you want to test with clients or where you most need advice and use the time to dig deeply into discussion.
  • Know the purpose and goal of each session.  Council meetings go off the rails when the discussion lacks focus.  Spend time in advance to structure the conversation and identify specifically where you want input and advice and make that clear at the outset of the session.
  • Make content accessible.  When it comes to sharing strategies and services, every company loves their own frameworks and diagrams to showcase their unique approach.  But if you want thoughtful and useful input on the strategy you have to break it down and make it specific, clear and easy to digest and discuss.
  • Timing is everything.  Where you are in the cycle of building trust and comfort with your Advisory Board should inform your content focus.  Some topics work better after you have convened the group a few times and gained trust among the members.  For example, you may want an opinion on competitors, but until there is a lot of trust established, and a working familiarity with the company’s strategy these conversations will lack structure and substance.

Less is more.  Force the discipline to have fewer topics and spend the time to shape a structured quality discussion.  This is one of the hardest disciplines to adopt, but one that will bring the most benefit for you and your clients around the Customer Advisory Board table.

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