What if our customer advisory board isn’t working?

Customer advisory boards falter and lose steam for a number of reasons:

  • Internal focus wanes or sponsors change.
  • It feels the board has run out of things to talk about.
  • It is a struggle to retain members.
  • The insight gained doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

When we help rejuvenate existing, struggling boards, the source of the problem—discovered after detailed assessment—often comes down to a weakness in one or more success factors.

  • Internal Focus & Accountability
  • Strong Membership
  • Reciprocal, Strategic Value
  • Killer Content & Conversation

Depending on the diagnosis, there are two general ways to refresh your board:

Recommit

Renewing your organization’s attention and accountability to the board takes a deft combination of organizational politics, communication, publicity, and management.

Map out your critical stakeholders, sponsors and influencers—and identify any gaps in commitment.

With everyone:

  • revisit the board’s goals
  • repackage and publicize the insights gained and impact made
  • remind them of the strategic value of the advisors’ goodwill.
  • come to a new agreement about what constitutes the right resources—and from whom.

Redesign

It may be that the original charter, format, or topics no longer suit your interests, or your customers’. Spend time updating your understanding of the common challenges, goals, and interests from a broad set of internal stakeholders, current and past advisors, and customers who don’t currently serve on the board.

Consider how you can reorient the board—in focus, composition, or output—to better serve everyone involved.

The third option:

Retire

Some advisory boards come to natural ends. If, after careful consideration, you decide yours has run its course, acknowledge and celebrate its successful career, and allow it to come to a close.

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