Should my organization launch an advisory board?

When we help companies think through whether or not to launch a customer advisory board, the decision often comes down to some combination of business reason, customer reason, and organizational readiness.

Do you have a compelling BUSINESS reason?

Enterprises launch a customer advisory board to accelerate change, uncover opportunities, or otherwise strengthen their position in three areas:

  • Strategy & Market Insight
  • Relationships
  • Revenue

Often, an advisory board can be a powerful steward through major transitions or transformations. These aren’t the only opportunities to launch a successful board, but they do illustrate some common scenarios in which companies consider one.

Major changes in strategy

You need existing customers to buy differently…or you aim to break into a new industry or customer category.

New products and services

You need traction.

Significant account loss or unexpected market gain

You need to regroup, chart a new course, or make hay while the relationships shine.

Mergers and acquisitions

You need to retain and expand accounts under the new regime.

New executive team

It’s time to change the status quo.

Do you have a compelling CUSTOMER reason? Or can you create one?

Eager to reap an advisory board’s benefits, organizations may overlook a key question: Will our customers care?

Your board is an opportunity to serve and collaborate with your customers. It’s wise to understand from the start what will bring them to the table—and keep them there.

The bottom line: Senior executives invest their energy in programs that can make a difference to the way they do business. Boards—when designed and facilitated well—can offer a pitch-free, constructive, and confidential setting to help them:

Cope with disruption.

Your customers are facing major, rapid change. They are looking for ways to stay ahead, and address pressing challenges.

Get the maximum benefit from your business relationship.

Your customers want to collaborate to create value, as well as influence your major strategies, transitions, and transformation.

Gain new ideas and insight.

Your customers are looking for direct access to peers, your top executives, and key experts, with whom they can have in-depth interactions tailored to their business challenges and priorities.

Are you ready?

The best board will take sustained commitment from your executive team—both to operate the board and act on what you learn from it. Before you jump in, consider:

  • Can you articulate the board’s role—and accountability for its outcomes?
  • Can you recruit qualified advisors from your current customer base?
  • Can you secure commitment from key executives…including those who hold the relationships with potential advisors?
  • Can you name a senior-level champion for its implementation and operation?
  • Can you enlist an internal team with enough clout and resources to make change based on the board’s advice?

Answering these questions, “not yet,” doesn’t rule out a successful board. But it does suggest some groundwork to get your board on sure footing.

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