This is the last of my 3-part series on how to avoid common missteps in executing your Customer Advisory Board. The focus of this misstep is on the importance of treating the CAB as an ongoing program and not “just another meeting.”
The CAB meeting is treated as an event – this is a common misstep with Customer Advisory Boards. The host organization turns it over to their Event Team who plans the meeting. The leadership team prepares a few weeks prior, the meeting is executed, and everyone returns to their jobs. Nothing else happens until it is time to plan the next meeting, and the Event Team starts the process all over again.
Better idea – it doesn’t end with the meeting! A CAB is an ongoing program and should be treated as such. This is accomplished by careful attention and continuous planning. Following are a few key elements to help ensure your team is aligned to deliver a valuable meeting experience, and your members feel it is worth their time:
- Meeting agendas should not be driven by host presentations. Create sessions that engage members in two-way dialog and small group discussions, and allow time for networking and socializing.
- Your key stakeholders and session leaders must spend time rehearsing as a team and share ideas. This will ensure cohesiveness in the agenda and allow all presenters to be familiar with what other team members are presenting. CAB members appreciate well-organized meetings.
- Provide a post-meeting report with a summary of discussions and next steps you will be addressing based on their feedback - this shows the members you value their input. Keep in touch with your members to give them periodical updates on your progress.
- Keep members engaged between meetings – provide opportunities for them to connect on topics of interest that came up during the meeting for further exploration/discussion. Poll your members for topics of interest for the next face-to-face meeting.
We have seen many variations of CAB meetings. These Customer Engagement programs are in no way a “one-size-fits-all” scenario – they are customized programs that take time and thought to plan. When done properly, the rewards for your organization are better market alignment and enhanced customer relationships.