Customer feedback is an essential road map to guide a company toward success. When you have a customer-centric culture, your business has a greater chance of growing and thriving. But how can businesses create spaces for customers to engage in productive dialogue? 

Mapistry sought out feedback about its direction by organizing a Customer Advisory Board (CAB). 

A CAB is a selected group of customers who provide strategic feedback about the status of a product, emerging industry trends, and the direction of the company.

Mapistry received commendations for the process from participants of its CAB—executives and practitioners from diverse industries. Maya Colato, Vice President of Customer Experience at Mapistry, outlines how you can build a successful Customer Advisory Board

Building the foundation of your Customer Advisory Board

Your process leading up to your CAB should begin with internal alignment. Draft a charter statement that includes thorough documentation of your organization’s mission, goals, and expectations. This will be shared with your team and your prospective board members so that you all begin on the same page. Then, decide how much time, money, and effort your company is willing to invest in the CAB. 

Next, identify your most strategic customers. Which customer segments best represent your growth focus? Mapistry recruited a diverse pool by inviting both legacy customers and new customers. 

Your legacy customers will give you rich information on how you’ve grown already. New customers add value to your CABs with their fresh experience with your sales cycle and onboarding processes.

Keep in mind that prospective board members lead busy lives. How will you entice prospective board members to take part? Try highlighting benefits like…

  • Networking opportunities
  • Early access to new features and functionality
  • A forum to influence the product

Achieving mutually beneficial meetings

Beneficial relationships between you and your customers help achieve high retention rates. Strategic feedback allows you to grow with the needs of your customers. Seeking and implementing that feedback helps customers feel appreciated. 

You must plan relevant content that engages board members. Be a guide, but allow your board members to drive the conversation. In other words, don’t use up all the oxygen in the room. Your board members might surprise you by making points you hadn’t considered.

Here are some tips if you conduct your CAB remotely:

  • Pay close attention to the dynamics, and avoid an imbalance in the type of feedback you receive.
  • Encourage introverted members to speak, their feedback is valuable.
  • Manage talkative members and draw out quiet members, remember to make all your customers feel heard.

After your CAB meetings, follow up with your board members and reiterate that you value their contributions. Update them on any changes you make based on the feedback they provided. Customers don’t want to engage in solely transactional relationships; they want to continue the conversation. They want to be sure that your company will grow as their needs evolve. 

Bringing home the learnings 

It’s time to evaluate what you as a company are getting out of your CAB. How will you adjust for the years to come? Will you make product roadmap adjustments? Will you onboard future Account Executives with recorded CAB calls? Did your subcommittees function well, or will you need to change the group composition? Consider how your goals and mission may have shifted after your first CAB.

Whatever you get out of the CAB, spread the feedback throughout your company. To create a cohesive team, everyone should understand company changes.

CAB had a domino effect on the rest of the company and allowed us to be more customer-centric throughout the different teams.

Self-reflection allows your company to improve and expand its customer base. Don’t leave your CAB charter on a shelf. Dust it off and make adjustments according to customer feedback. 

Key takeaways

A Customer Advisory Board should be a strategic and mutually beneficial endeavor. Signs you conducted a successful CAB:

  • You and your team are on the same page. 
  • Board members can discern your intent. 
  • Board members express interest in future conversations about your company,
  • You continue to nurture relationships with board members.
  • You implement suggested changes.

When you invest in your customers, they will invest in you.

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