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Planning Customer Advisory Boards the Right Way

Posted on May 22, 2014 , by Sabrina Bozek
CATEGORIES: Loyalty Research

Collecting voice of customer insights should not just be about surveys, I hope we can all agree on that. After all, B2B customer success is all about relationships and dialogues that create a partnership.  One way to do that is with well-planned customer advisory boards (CABs). 

How do you plan a CAB effectively, you ask? customer advisory boards

Mike Gospe, the Co-Founder and Principal at KickStart Alliance, outlines exactly what you need to know to begin planning for Fall CABs in order for you (and your customer) to get the most out of it. Below is an abridged version of the original post

If you are thinking about hosting a Customer Advisory Board meeting sometime in September – November, now’s the time to start planning. Here’s your first set of action items.
1) Start with your objective, not your invitation list
Success is about getting the right people to attend who can answer your most important questions. And to understand who you should invite, you must first understand your objectives for the CAB.There are four types of CAB objectives. Depending on which one you choose to focus on, you’ll end up with a specific agenda, and ultimately a tuned invitation list. So, let your objective lead the way.
2) What do you want to learn?
Sometimes the harder question is: What do we plan to do with the information we collect? The CAB is a wonderful and unique form of market research. You are in a room with a dozen decision makers from your most important customers. If at the end of the meeting you reflect, “Well, that was nice, but I didn’t really learn anything new,” then you’ve wasted a precious opportunity. Think hard about this. What are your “big questions”? And think hard about what you will be prepared to do based on what you hear.
3) Consider hiring a professional facilitator or a CAB coach
You have a dozen priorities you are managing at any given time. Do you have the bandwidth to guide an effective CAB? If not, consider hiring an outside expert to assist you. Some companies prefer a full-service CAB engagement (where they help you prepare for the meeting, facilitate the meeting, and provide a CAB plan-of-record report following the meeting). Other companies want to host the meeting themselves but value having a “CAB coach“ in the wings to help keep them on track.
4) Learn more
While CAB meetings can feel a bit intimidating, don’t let that get in the way of thinking big and having fun. More and more companies are embracing CABs as a key component of their annual planning process. Here are a few resources to answer some of the most common CAB questions and get you started on your path to hosting a world-class CAB meeting. Enjoy!
KickStart Alliance CAB Facilitation services
KickStart Alliance CAB Coaching services
For more information on CAB best practices, check out this short slide set or email Mike Gospe.
About the Authorsm jpeg covers
Mike is an author, integrated marketing strategist, and professional facilitator. As a Co-founder and Principal of KickStart Alliance, his specialties include marketing operations, integrated marketing campaign planning, and conducting workshops for marketers on the best-practices of personas, positioning statements, and customer-ready messaging. Mike is also a professional facilitator with an expertise in Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meetings and executive offsites.