Client advisory boards – the final instalment

In this article we conclude our series about the value of a client advisory board (CAB) as a tool to evaluate your business performance.  As you finalise the planning for your CAB, bear in mind the core reasons behind your decision to host one and what you hope to achieve by doing so.

When the day arrives you’ll have a diverse set of people in one room.  Small clients, big clients, new and longstanding clients, and clients from different locations.  You’ll have a nice slice of your target groups to cover a range of issues.

Order of events on the day

Welcome your guests and introduce the facilitator.  It’s best to do this in a relaxed manner over tea / coffee and perhaps a light snack.  Let your audience know that the meeting will be audiotaped and that the facilitator will be taking notes throughout – highlight your commitment to providing them with an improved customer experience.  Explain the overall process of the day and be sure to thank everyone in advance for their participation.

After the meeting, join the group to relax over lunch or dinner and listen attentively without asking probing questions.  Reiterate your gratefulness for their involvement and that you’ll be in touch.

Dissecting CAB feedback

Immediately after the schmoozing, meet with your facilitator to go over his / her notes while the event is fresh.  Next, go over the audio to extract and document the positives and negatives to marry with the facilitator’s notes.  Go through the audio a second time to be sure you haven’t missed anything.  Involve your key team members and discuss how you plan to tackle the hairy issues.  Prepare a report to communicate your follow-up action steps to CAB participants.

Show your appreciation

Send a thank you card and a small gift to each of your CAB clients.  Make it personal, you may like to reference a great suggestion they made.  Emphasise that you will keep them informed of the outcomes.

Implement change – get your team on board

Relay (and thank your team for) the positive outcomes from the meeting.  Without pointing fingers discuss the negatives and ways to address each issue – order them by importance as well as turnaround time.  End on a positive note by discussing any exciting ideas that arose from the meeting – focusing on how you can boost the business into the future.

Who will be in charge of making each positive change happen?  Formalise your business plan.  Implement some simple, workable suggestions straightaway to show customers that you’re committed to change.  Your team will respond positively to new responsibilities and be held accountable to a whole new level of customer expectation.  Reward them as they rise to the challenge.

Update your CAB clients

Send them a report to outline:

  • The issues that were raised
  • The actions required to address each issue
  • A deadline for when each issue will be dealt with
  • Exciting ideas you hope to implement shortly.

Ask them for any further feedback.  How valuable did they find the experience?  In future would they be willing to help again?

Then it’s time for you to follow through on your promises and put your money where your mouth is.

Thinking of running a CAB?

CABs are invaluable in getting information to strengthen your business.  For instance:

  • Thinking of a new product line or service offering?
  • Wish to attract new clients in a different demographic?
  • Feeling out of touch with clients – relationships weakening?
  • Recently had bad feedback or disgruntled customers?

You will find part one here.
You will find part two here.

Published Winter 2013.

Serious about your success?