A client advisory board – the voice of your customer (part two)

In spring 2012, we outlined how a client advisory board is a tool to evaluate your business performance.  In this second article, we cover steps to make your board truly effective.

Planning the event

So you’re taking the plunge to get an honest view of how your clients see your business.  It’s important to plan now to ensure that you (and your clients) get the most out of this important meeting.  Consider your clients when deciding on a time and date – what is going to suit them, and what will make it worth their while? The meeting should take around 2.5 hours.

What are your key objectives?

This will depend on the reasons behind your decision to host a CAB:  Have sales dropped lately?  Have you been receiving customer complaints?  Has business boomed and you wish to continue your growth to secure your place in the market?  Clearly define your objectives in order to define your questions.

Define your questions.  Some sample questions might be:

  • What is it that we do exceptionally well?
  • Do we have enough meaningful contact with our customers?
  • Do all staff offer the same standard of customer service?
  • Has there ever been a moment when you felt strongly supported by or conversely strongly let down by us?
  • How frequently do you refer new business to us?
  • Have you ever used a competitor, and what prompted that?
  • What are some other services / products that would make your life easier, or more profitable?
  • How strongly do you rate our brand?
  • How knowledgeable do you find us?
  • How do you find our billing system and or returns policy?
  • How do you find our communication systems?
  • If we could improve two things, what would they be?

Pre-planning order of events:

  • Find a suitable venue – a boardroom of some description
  • Invite between eight and twelve customers by mail or email two to three weeks in advance.  Allow for some to decline
  • Confirm with customers two to five days before meeting
  • Brief your facilitator on the CAB questions, provide an attendee list with business profiles, and paper for notes.

On the day you’ll need:

  • Audio recording equipment (to review the meeting later)
  • Water, mints, pens and writing paper for the table
  • Refreshments and snacks on arrival and departure (either breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, or depending on timing, dinner)
  • Name badges for everyone (in a large font for ease of reading).

Stay tuned for Client Advisory Board part three, as this will outline how to approach the big day, and define how to utilise your findings.

You will find part one here.

Published Autumn 2013.

Serious about your success?