Let's play a little game of "What if?"
Think of a product or service that you use regularly - one that has a significant impact on the success of your business. Make that a product or service for which you allocate a large share of your budget. (In other words, you are a VERY good customer.)
Now consider . . .
1. What if the manufacturer or service provider offered you a seat on their board of advisors, with no fiduciary responsibility?
2. What if they said to you, "You have been a good customer and we want to keep it that way. We really value your opinion."?
3. What if you were asked for strategic direction based on your usage of their product and asked what enhancements you would like to see?
4. What if you were having these conversations with the CEO, CMO and SVP of sales? And later that night, you went to dinner with these high-level executives and they further probed into how they can help you grow your company?
Okay, I think you get the idea. Now, one more "what if." What if their top competitor called you and asked you to consider making a move to their product or service, because without ever having a single conversation with you, they know "exactly what you need"?
If you haven't thought of it like that before, hopefully this will be a clear indication of the kind of value you can get from a Customer Advisory Board or any kind of initiative that engages your top executives with your customers. Not only do you create a relationship and a loyal customer, you also end up with high-level advocates who can provide third-party validation of your strategies and commitments to the customer.
Think about this so you don't end up asking yourself, "What if we had just listened to the customer?"