Corporate AdvisoryGeneral Business

Customer Advisory Board Issues and How to Tackle Them

A customer advisory board (CAB) is an amazing forum for you to gain priceless feedback from your clients, past and present. You can even include some prospective customers. The CAB is a chance for customers to tell you exactly what they want.

Whether you have already looked into adopting a CAB for your business or not, here are a few issues which can arise and how to tackle them.

Getting off track

Of course, you want your CAB meet up to roll out smoothly. You want everyone involved to feel at ease and comfortable. It’s also practical to remember that this is not a social gathering and that there needs to be a structure to the day. You don’t want the conversation to go off track to where you find yourself talking about yoga classes – unless that’s your industry!

Ensure you have a plan or outline for the day that is clearly communicated to the group, keeping things streamlined and on track. While you want all useful information, you’ll need to draw the line about what is relevant and when CAB members start wafting. Hiring a third party facilitator will be crucial for the success of your CAB meeting, and this is where their expertise will come into play. A properly trained facilitator will know how to guide the conversation back toward the focus of the meeting.

Unreasonable participants

In most cases, the members of your CAB will be well-behaved and play a valuable role in the day. However, on the odd occasion, you need to be prepared to manage any members who try to steal the spotlight.

It’s possible that among your mix of clients you’ll have a disgruntled and unreasonable individual.

In these cases, it’s imperative to have an active facilitator who can diffuse the situation and neutralise the energy in the room. A poorly facilitated group can lead a fiery client to blow up and leave the session. Their exit could leave the remaining group members feeling rather awkward.

If this situation arises, it’s important to listen and take into account what your member is voicing. They only wish to be heard. In many occurrences, these people are loyal customers at heart.

Trying too much

While you want your CAB meet up to be a success, be mindful not to be too adventurous in the types of activities or location that you set the session up. Remember that your CAB members are donating their time and being too over the top to impress them can backfire.

For example, if your business caters to the construction or labour market, your members may not feel most comfortable at the Hilton hotel. Some people may view this as pretentious and could also be outside of their comfort zone. There have been many instances where companies have taken their CAB meet ups to golf sessions, gun firing ranges, amongst others. Remember, not everyone is going to be up for such wild activities.

Be aware that anyone part of the meet will be traveling to attend. Don’t make the travel any more complicated than it needs to be.

Additionally, any team bonding or ice breaker activities you might choose to involve shouldn’t be too outrageous and make people more uncomfortable than they may already feel by being in a room full of strangers. Keep it simple.

Know your customers and clients, and remember what industry you service. Don’t try too hard, yet don’t be shy.

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Neil Parker
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