Executive Customer Councils are strategic meetings that serve as very important opportunities for your business to grow and develop. This council is made up of executives who want to invest in seeing your business succeed. Another term associated with this meeting is called a CAB. According to the Ignite Advisory Group, “A Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is a marketing program made up of strategic customers who work closely with company executives to provide guidance on corporate strategies, offer input on products and services, and address and create solutions to industry challenges.” This article will present 6 different tips in holding these types of meetings.
- Agenda: Because this is a focus group, if you are the moderator of the meeting you need to have an agenda with clear and constructed questions. The types of executives that you choose to be on this executive council should be opinionated and not shy to express criticism or ideas. Getting the most out of your CAB, means preparing for this meeting and truly taking the time to develop thoughtful questions. You want to use this time as a place to LISTEN to feedback so you can improve your customer relations. Things that should be on your agenda and not limited to should include: new expansions, strengths and weaknesses of product, and insights into market growth. This is not the time for sales. This is time to hear your customers out. You should always map out the customers journey through your business. This data serves as a starting point for discussion and improvements.
- Who is on the guest-list? : You could choose to invite only customers who are pleased with your business, or you could choose to be diverse. Bringing diversity to your CAB ensures that you will be able to reach all platforms when discussing your product. You want these “unhappy” customers to present critical thinking problems and solutions for your business. If your Executive Customer council is diverse, the outcome will provide growth and possibly ideas you have never heard of. One quality that you should be looking for when creating these types of councils is enthusiasm. You want the innovative and forward-thinkers on board.
- Survey: One idea to get the most money and time out of your meeting is to send out a survey prior to the meeting. This gets the customers ideas flowing. You can also find out what the customers would like to see happen with your business. Analyzing this data prior to the meeting can save you more money and direct the type of conversation that needs to take place during the CAB.
- Budget: Recruiting for this type of meeting should be easy, however, be aware that costs can pile up. Your customers will benefit from being on this council through forming networking relationships, so you don’t need to pay them. Although, if your board meets face-to-face, (which is highly recommended), you will need to budget for travel, lodging, and food expenses.
- Incentive: Since being on a CAB is voluntary, you may want to show some love to your attendee’s! Some ways to do this include: previews and special access to new products, access to new features and specialities, and inclusion and contribution to those products presented. If they are flying in to be on your board, make sure to make it worth their time.
- Post-Op: It is vital to your business and to your Executive Customer Council that you keep the communication flowing after the meeting takes place. Make sure to have a question and answer panel held at the meetings. You can also create message boards or online forums to discuss what was learned at the meeting. By doing so, other executives will see that they are part of a bigger community, thus trying to be part of a solution for your business. This will also keep customers coming back and fully engaged.
CAB meetings should provide meaningful input about your business. It is important to note that the more you hold these types of meetings, the more comfortable the members feel with one another. Trust will be fostered, and peer relationships should grow. Make your CABS a place where honest communication can flow, and your business is sure to succeed.