As we’re already well into 2023, you’ve likely started your personal New Year’s resolutions. (Exercise more, eat healthier, save more money, etc.) As you may even have some professional resolutions (land that well-deserved promotion?) for the year, you should be sure to apply the idea to your customer advisory board (CAB) program.
After decades of helping companies large and small initiate, manage and improve their CAB programs, we’ve seen what works well and what doesn’t. Here are the top five resolutions we wish all companies would dedicate themselves to achieving when it comes to their CAB initiatives.
Fools Rush In
Hold off setting an initial meeting date (until you’re ready): When starting a CAB program, it is common for us to work with new clients who already have a date in mind (or even set) for their initial CAB meeting. More concerning is that this date is often just a couple months or few weeks in out the future.
While we appreciate the eagerness of companies to get rolling, they should fully understand the steps involved — creating a charter, recruiting members, creating a member-driven agenda, preparing content — before setting a meeting date. Having this already decided creates a rushed schedule where crucial steps are abbreviated (or even abandoned) and CAB managers have to “work backward” to get everything done in time. Not only does this make their lives more difficult, your customers will likely notice such a rushed program.
Related Article: Why We’re Thankful: Our Favorite Customer Advisory Board Social Activities
Listen, Don't Tell
Create a member-focused agenda: Speaking of meeting agendas, companies may assume they know the issues, bottle necks and pain points that are top of mind for their customers. Equally troubling, they may have a preconceived list of items to “show” their customers, such as their new product capabilities, demos or screenshots.
But CAB meeting agendas should be customer-driven, meaning that the members create and prioritize the topics that are discussed. Such topics are discovered through member interviews or surveys and through previous engagements for mature programs. Host companies need to consider what they want to learn from CAB members, not what they want to tell them.
Don't Be Boring
Get more creative: If your meeting content is nothing more than a series of PowerPoint presentations with members sitting, listening and providing feedback “at the end,” your meeting will likely be boring, with lackluster discussions and an overall wasted opportunity. Instead, companies should get creative with innovative sessions and exercises that get members moving, contributing and prioritizing.
Related Article: Keep the Customer Advisory Board Meeting to Customers
Get meeting materials created earlier: Our consultants are still sometimes disappointed (or outright horrified) to see CAB meeting materials come together very late in the process; often mere hours before (or at) the meeting itself. Procrastination robs host companies of the opportunity to review meeting content, understand everyone’s role and avoid any uncertainty — or even chaos — at the meeting which, again, will be recognized by your members.
Don't Forget Follow-Ups
Provide progress updates: For mature CAB programs, you likely were given an abundance of ideas and suggestions from your previous meeting that warrants follow-up. What was done with previous CAB member input? 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 will get frustrated and lose interest in your program.
While your 2023 New Year’s resolutions may get you back in shape, now is the time to ensure your CAB program is fit for the coming year. Your members will be expecting a top professional experience, so take the necessary steps to ensure you are providing it to them.
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