In order for any business to be successful, a strong customer base is an absolute must. Businesses must take feedback from frequent customers very seriously. Listening to your customers will help your business grow, adapt, and prosper.
Executive Customer Councils are strategy-focus groups that conduct market research. Holding these types of meetings and events frequently helps your leadership team better understand your most important customers. If you don’t understand your loyal customers, how will your business succeed? Without them, you wouldn’t be in business in the first place. This article will highlight some important tips for conducting these types of meetings.
- What is a Customer Advisory Board?
A CAB is an intimate board that is formed combining top executives from customer companies. The size of these meetings should be small. No more than 25 people should be on this type of board. These boards should be able to speak without delegation. This event is important! You should be holding these types of meetings two times a year to keep up with market and organizational changes. At least two of the meetings should be held face-to face! The other meetings can be held virtually through a messaging board. Make this meeting a priority and start budgeting for it.
- Who should be on the Executive Customer Council?
Vetting who is on this board is extremely important to the boards overall success. You must choose executives from the most strategic customer companies. It is also important to have diverse members on this council. Each member should bring something different to the table. You want your council members to share a common interest (your business) but bring completely different perspectives. In order for the council to excel in strategic planning, council members must be those who voice opinions and give feedback. Customers should also be able to dish out some criticism. A forward-thinking customer is exactly who you want on your board! When you are forming a Executive Customer Council, keep these tips in mind:
- Customers should hold strong relationships with the sponsor company. Many of these Executive Customers may also be peers.
- You want customers who are enthusiastic and who can bring debate to the council.
- Council members usually participate voluntary. Remember, being a council member benefits your customer as well. They want their business to succeed and being a member also provides networking opportunities.
- What is on the agenda at these types of meetings?
Whoever is in charge of the Executive Customer Council agenda must remember sales pitches should not be discussed. Yes, while sales may happen-you must remember that is not the point of this meeting. This should be a time when you (as a business manager) should be discussing new products or programs. Presentations on new ideas and market changes can be heard here. Not only is this the place for collaboration, but rather it is a council that adresses problems or concerns with current practices. On the agenda should also be a customer “journey” in form of a map. This lays out the customer’s process when interacting with your business. Be prepared to hear criticism as well as compliments.
The Executive Customer Council should serve as a place where feedback, whether positive or negative, is in a constant flux. A good plan to adapt for your agenda is a “ listen” approach. Sit back and take in what your customers are saying about your product. This is a council where learning should be the number one goal. These meetings allow everyone involved to focus on the “big picture.” The customers that are chosen to be on your CAB should be enthusiastic individuals who want to see their and your business grow! Don’t forget to keep the conversation going long after your CAB has met! Developing ongoing relationships and trust will contribute to the success of your next Executive Customer Council.