No matter what you do in life, to be the best you’ve got to jump all in and have some structure. This plan of attack is the very thing that’s going to see you through the challenging times and be the reminder as to what it is you’re setting out to achieve and what the next step is.
When you’re running a customer advisory board (CAB), it’s no different to other strategic functions of your business.
Here we explore a few CAB best practices to ensure you exceed your expectations:
Focus & Purpose
Know the purpose of forming your CAB. Many organisations get confused by thinking that a CAB is just another focus group, client recognition event or product testing group. It’s not. Your CAB is a group of trusted advisors, who know your product or service. You want to involve them in the process of fine-tuning what your business is offering the market. Before you jump in and create a CAB, sit down with your team and decide on what the focus of the group will be and what purpose will they serve? This way you can move forward because you know where you are going. It also means when you communicate the initiative to your potentially CAB members, they will be clear on what you are trying to achieve. Don’t waste time, resources and money floundering around because you didn’t sit down to identify the core function of your CAB.
Who’s Your Dream CAB Member?
With your management team, sit down and write out who your ideal CAB member is. For example, are you looking to have industry celebrities, individuals at the board or senior level; is your person passionate about a particular product or service that your business offers? Who are they, what do they do? Be clear. Once you have your CAB member profile, keep it for reference and only once this part is complete, seek out your CAB members.
You may be excited and ready to get the ball rolling now! That’s great, however, don’t expect to form your CAB in a couple of weeks. There are two reasons we don’t suggest this. First off, you need to factor in the schedules of potential candidates and secondly, you want to build an active group. For example, the army isn’t just going to recruit anyone that’s available for the job, nor would you employ just anyone that walked off the street without checking to see that they’re the right fit. You want your board members to take part willingly. Having to force, or convince people to get on board can lead to issues down the track. Think back to a time where you agreed to do something but deep down you didn’t want to do it. How did you approach the task at hand and what was your attitude like? Probably not inspired. Take the time you need; 4-6 months is a good timeframe.
Set Clear Expectations
There’s nothing worse than committing to something and finding out, the commitment period is more than what you expected. Don’t put your CAB members in that position. Be clear in setting out the parameters for the CAB. Explain to them how many days per year their service will be required. Will there be other online initiatives you’ll require their assistance with? Will you be covering interstate travel and living expenses for this period? Make sure you specify all the details of their involvement. Doing so will help your candidates plan their lives around your meetups, and everyone will be on the same page. Most importantly, individuals will be able to identify if they can commit themselves or not.
Be sure to have members fill out release forms, non-disclosure agreements and any further legal documentation that will protect you from any sorts of fines against your firm, losses and damages, legal suits and so forth. Everything should be signed off before you proceed with your meeting.
Go With The Flow
Once you see that the business has achieved milestones and core objectives, look to change up the members of your group. Keep fluid and be responsive. New people will bring fresh perspectives to your board.