When the end of a calendar year closes, hand in hand come a number of retirements and role changes in the C-suite, which has an impact on Customer Advisory Council membership. While a number of open seats on your customer advisory council may cause a jolt of panic, it forces one to closely examine the current membership and the mix of industry, geographic, and diversity gaps that need to be addressed.
Having a strong customer advisory council membership pipeline is always important; sudden member turnover highlights just how essential it is to have a view to who might be filling those seats at the meeting table next. Below are a few items to keep in mind when considering new members.
Explore options with the executive team. Provide senior leaders with a view to the existing gaps and offer clear membership criteria; it is very likely that they have ideas of individuals they feel might be great contributors to the customer advisory council.
Check in with the account leaders. Do you have a list of ideal candidates who previously could not commit to council participation? Maybe the time is right now. Keep track of those individuals / companies that you would want on your ideal council and reach out; their circumstances may have changed as well, opening a door to their participation. Client leaders who interact with their customers regularly also have a view to potential new members and may help uncover someone that you may not have considered.
Regular reading on leaders in the space. Regularly read up on who the leaders are in the specific role that the advisory council focuses on. This is a great way to bring forward fresh new ideas for membership candidates.
Additionally, here are a few things to NOT do:
- Do not agree to take on delegates. This can diminish the peer to peer quality, which is part of the reciprocal value to council members.
- Avoid turning to replacements without considering the broader mix to ensure you have the best quality council.
- Shift the focus to prospects if you haven’t done that before – as that takes a careful touch.
Unexpected and significant departures of advisory council members can throw a wrench in council dynamics, but a concrete action plan and consistent follow up can help rejuvenate the council membership base.