In his presentation at the CustomerAdvisoryBoard.org 2011 Conference in Boston, Sean Geehan covered the Eight Building Blocks of World-Class Customer Advisory Boards
(CABs). Check out his post on the LinkedIn group for CAB.org
(and feel free to join the group if you like - it's a great source for CAB Program Managers).
In his post, he emphasized the importance of getting executive buy-in, sponsorship and support from the leadership team for your CAB program. While this is a critical requirement to ensure internal support and alignment, also keep in mind the other stakeholders in your organization who are important to involve in the process and include in the feedback loop.
Below is a flowchart we developed showing the additional internal stakeholder input areas, and how that information should flow back to the Executive Sponsor (or CEO) of your CAB initiative.
Your leadership team should always
be connected to your CAB program. Just as important are their direct reports in key areas of your organization - sales, marketing, customer service, product development, etc. Be sure to provide an input mechanism by which these individuals can suggest areas to explore with CAB members. Making them part of the process will foster camaraderie among the team and reinforce the value of their support and expertise. These are your internal champions who will help take the feedback form the CAB and integrate that into new products and offerings - it is vital to keep them involved and informed.