The Gist

  • A little thanks goes a long way. Customer advisory board (CAB) managers should show their CAB members appreciation to ensure their ongoing support and dedication to the company.
  • Keep meetings laser-focused. Your CAB meeting agenda should prioritize your members' top initiatives and challenges and create opportunities for brainstorming, breakout discussions and voting sessions.
  • Let them know what's up. Follow up with your members on their suggestions and report back on material changes that were made as a result.

With Valentine’s Day here, love is in the air this month. While couples may be making plans for romantic rendezvous, customer advisory board (CAB) managers should also remember to show the love to their CAB members. After all, it’s important to make CAB members feel valued and special as part of their program — as they certainly are — in order to ensure their ongoing support and dedication to your company.

As such, here are five suggestions to show the love to your CAB members this year:

Maximize Customer Advisors' Time

As your customers have volunteered to participate on your CAB program, it’s crucial to ensure all engagements are valuable and you’re never wasting their time. Monthly “update” meetings, repetitive interviews or too many surveys may wear CAB member patience. Best practice is to meet in-person one or two times per year, with at most one or two virtual strategy calls annually in between meetings — and only as warranted. These can provide real value to your members.

Don’t hold your members captive all day in a virtual call; they will likely get fatigued and lose interest. Be sure to communicate your participation expectations during recruiting through your well-written CAB charter, so there is no misunderstanding or disappointment later.

Deliver an Executive Customer Experience

As your CAB is a collection of leadership representing your best customers, your program should be well-run, extremely organized and provide an “executive experience.” That means not only high-end hotels, meals and social activities, but outstanding communications, strong meeting content and expertly facilitated engagements. Your own company executives, including your CEO, should actively participate in the preparation, meeting and post-meeting activities as well.

Related Article: Keep the Customer Advisory Board Meeting to Customers

Engage on Customer Challenges

Your CAB is not the forum for sales pitches, product demos or canned corporate PowerPoint presentations. Instead, you will want to create an agenda that is prioritized to your members’ top initiatives and challenges (not just yours). You want to listen to and learn from your CAB members to tackle challenges your own company may be struggling with (e.g. budget constraints, product feature priorities, marketing messaging, competitive pressures, etc.).

And get your members moving — hold breakout discussions, brainstorming and voting sessions. Your members will not be happy if your meeting is boring, one-sided or could have been done virtually as there was no need for them to travel to it.

Learning Opportunities

Follow up on Customer Suggestions

During your CAB meeting, you were likely given an abundance of ideas, suggestions and potential actions that your company can take. As such, you will want to capture these and report back to your members on what material changes were made, and the results that took place.

While you don’t have to have everything completed, you do need to provide a status on where their ideas stand. If members feel their suggestions are not leading to material changes, they may lose interest in your program.

Related Article: Ho Ho Ho: Our Best Customer Advisory Board Gifts

Give Customers a Gift

While giving your CAB members a small token of your appreciation of their support of your CAB is not required, it’s a nice touch that will certainly show them the love. The best gifts should support the theme or location of your meeting, or reflect the social activity you held. Remember to keep the gift “carryon small” if your members will be taking their gift home with them via airplane (or be prepared to ship it to them). Keep the gift nice but inexpensive (e.g. under $100), as some companies may have policies about accepting gifts above this price. See here for some examples and ideas.

Taking care of your CAB members this year will ensure they are committed to your program, continue to provide valuable input to your company, and help you uncover material, revenue-generating ideas. And that’s something everyone can love.

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