Corporate AdvisoryGeneral Business

How to Start a Customer Advisory Board

There’s nothing more valuable in business than getting sound and constructive advice. Especially at the grass roots level. One of the best and most cost effective ways is the creation of a Customer Advisory Board. It’s a group of customers selected by you with the goal to receiving real feedback on how to take your business forward in a very competitive marketplace.  You’ll be surprised at what they will provide.

With a Customer Advisory Board in place, new ideas and new insights that you perhaps haven’t thought of, can all come together to paint a bigger picture of the future of your business.

Why have a Customer Advisory Board?

Well, there are a number of incredibly positive reasons. Firstly, it will provide you with access to comments and insights on your business that you’ll find invaluable. A Customer Advisory Board creates an open forum where you’ll be able to find answers to all sorts of questions. Customers in meetings can put a different perspective on things and their input can help you improve different aspects of your business and  provide a new direction. These insights are a way of focusing on the most important aspects and provide positive and different ideas on how to really drive your business forward.

Getting things started.

Members of your Customer Advisory Board should be a cross section of customers past and present plus prospective customers if you can arrange it. It’s also a very smart idea to include your “ideal” customers. They’re the ones that you should be building your business for.

8-12 customers is a good number for your CAB which allows everyone to air their opinions and have their say. This really is a golden opportunity for customers to let you know exactly what they want from your business and when.

Using a facilitator.

To make your CAB as productive as possible, engage a professional to moderate the meetings. Otherwise what’s discussed can easily go off on a tangent and the whole meeting will lose objectivity very quickly. A good facilitator will keep everything on track. and have all the necessary skills to ensure that you receive all the information you need to progress your business.  They can also provide  very clear and concise feedback which will including suggestions on how to make the most of the opportunities presented to you.

What to expect from a meeting.

Without a doubt, there’s going to be plenty of surprises in store. Some good, some not so. But be realistic. This is honest feedback about your business that money can’t buy. Some of the positive benefits that can come from a CAB could include the participants’ greater awareness of your full product or service range. Or, how to establish closer relationships with your customers. It will all amount to making your business  better .

Obviously, your customer is giving up a lot  of their time to help you, so make sure that they are totally catered for in the meeting. After all, you want them to enjoy the experience. A nice touch would be to present all you customers with a gift to say thank you. Arrange a time to deliver it personally, after the meeting. Thank them for their feedback and provide them with a copy of the CAB report. Let them know that their opinions have been highly valued and tell them what you are doing to action their recommendations.

If you would like to find out more on how to start an Advisory Board for your business, reach us out. It will provide you with everything you need to know to make it all happen. Good luck!

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Neil Parker
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