What is a customer advisory board — really?

Companies apply “customer advisory board”, “client advisory council”, and similar terms to almost any forum involving customer input and interaction. Such a broad definition—“a forum for customer feedback”—causes confusion. Which customers? Feedback about what? Who needs insight? How will they use it?

Customer Advisory Boards are Strategy-Level Sounding Boards

Consider three different levels for customer feedback—product, solutions, strategy. Do you have a clear consensus about which kind of forum you’re trying to create?

Farland Group’s Definition of a Customer Advisory Board

In our minds, a customer advisory board:

  • builds relationships between key, senior customers and stakeholders
  • meets multiple times a year
  • advises on and shapes strategy, product/service direction, and innovation
  • fosters an ongoing, collaborative dialogue about the market

It is a strategy-level listening tool and sounding board that offers equal value to both you and participating customers.

  • Your leadership team learns from your c-level customers.

AND

A customer advisory board IS NOT a:

  • Lead generation tool
  • Conference or event
  • Focus group
  • Research program

Conspicuously absent:

  • Any type of selling or pitching
  • In-depth product testing and discussion

Why?

Those discussions misuse your advisors’ time. They undermine the trust, energy, and engagement that are critical to get the most valuable, strategic advice.

Related Stories

Customer Advisory Board Advice: Learn to Love the Pain

Posted on 08.30.2022 by in Customer Advisory Boards

The thing about Customer Advisory Boards is you just might get what you wished for: unvarnished advice about your strategy and your business. And while this is the very reason to create a Board, it can sometimes  

Continue Reading »

Three Ways to Operationalize Client Advisory Council Actions

Posted on 07.11.2022 by in Customer Advisory Boards

You just wrapped up a client advisory council meeting – discussions were dynamic, everyone was engaged, and as a result there are many ideas and potential actions to move forward. It’s exciting and daunting at the same  

Continue Reading »

Is it a Good Time to Launch a Customer Advisory Board?

Posted on 06.6.2022 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Not sure whether a Board is right for you? Here are some trigger points to consider.

Continue Reading »

Recruiting and Refreshing Advisory Board Members

Posted on 02.20.2022 by in Customer Advisory Boards

Is your  Client Advisory Board in need of recruitment and refreshment of its membership? Do you have existing client Board members who aren’t meeting the bar of their peers? Here are some tips on how to recruit  

Continue Reading »


Customer Advisory Boards

Customer Advisory Boards are powerful engines of engagement, insight, and business transformation. Make the most of yours.

Meeting Facilitation: Virtual and In-Person Boards » Taking Your Customer Advisory Board Meetings Virtual »

Learn More »

Engagement Strategy

Like any good relationship, customer engagement is a long-term, reciprocal effort. When done well, meaningful engagement leads to better business results, faster.

Engage Your Customers to Help You Stop Pitching » Getting to a Customer Engagement Mindset »

Learn More »

Understanding the C-Suite

Building C-level programs that are meaningful and bring value to you as well as to your c-suite customers is challenging. Veiled sales pitches won’t win the day with this audience. Deliver what executives want: ideas, inspiration, innovation, influence.

Building a C-Suite Client Experience Strategy » Do you Know What Your Customers Value? »

Learn More »