With the launch of our Customer Advisory Board Master’s course, we wanted to mark the occasion by discussing the basics: what a Customer Advisory Board is and how they’re done well.

We’ll be covering the following:

  • What Customer Advisory Boards are,
  • How it’s involved with customer marketing, and
  • Some best practices.

What is a Customer Advisory Board?

Customer Advisory Boards (CAB) is a case of the name ‘doing what it says on the tin’.

A CAB is a group of existing customers that helps brief the company on the experience with their product, offers information on what it’s like to be a customer, and advises them on other areas where the company and customer interaction is common.

Simple, right?

But a Customer Advisory Board does more than just provide information; you can get similar data from surveys and focus groups, so why else would a company put a CAB together?

Why do you need a Customer Advisory Board?

There are many advantages to setting up a CAB for companies that have a direct interest in being customer-centric in their approach to conducting business and business changes.

Customer Advisory Boards usually benefit companies that already have a good customer-to-business connection, as to be effective, it has to begin with a good foundation.

That way, CABs can be used to the best of their effectiveness. Here are some of the perks:

  • It offers a direct link to your customers, in a way that is personal and guarantees a more solid and tangible connection to them.
  • Helps provide direction, both in where to take your company and your products to better align with your customers’ priorities.
  • Creates champions for your brand. Customer Advisory Boards work well when connected to an advocacy program.

Customer Advisory Boards and customer marketing

CABs have similar intentions when it comes to improving your company's processes as customer marketing. Customer marketing often has a hand in setting up and running such boards alongside other customer engagement campaigns.

The advantages to having input from customer marketing with your CAB are numerous, but here are a few:

  • Specialization - Customer Advisory Boards will have different motivations and priorities depending on the company and the customer base connected to it. Customer marketers are in a unique position with their intimate knowledge of both your company and your customer base to help you work out these specifics.
  • Commitment - Customer Advisory Boards require dedication to these customers, and with customer marketing being a team that’s dedicated exclusively to your existing customers, they're some of the best people in your organization to section out time for your board.

A CAB is an area that requires a lot of dedication and commitment. Without the motivation being there on either side of the board, the whole thing will crumble and fall apart.

  • CABs evolve customer engagement - Customer Advisory Boards are essentially an evolution of other customer engagement programs. Customer marketing responsibilities are all about improving customer engagement and customer retention. So, CABs are right up their alley. With their expertise in customer collaboration, they’re a great choice for running this type of campaign.
  • CABs inform your techniques - CABs ensure a close customer relationship by involving these customers in how you run your marketing campaigns. Their insights into your customer journey are the key to improving customer acquisition and retaining customers in a relatively cost effective manner. Understanding why they became loyal customers can give you hints into the techinques that work for your target audience and increasing both the number of new customers and customers that make a repeat purchase.

Best practices for Customer Advisory Boards

Set specific goals

Knowing you want to connect better with your customers is all well and good, but without a tangible direction, a CAB is going to be more of a hindrance than a help.

Like with any board, discussing important topics in a large group can quickly go wrong if there’s confusion and miscommunication behind the goal you’re working towards.

So, make sure everyone knows why they’re there, and the goal the CAB is working towards. The aim should be specific and achievable within a specific time period. That way, the CAB will have achievable milestones to prove its success.

Choose ideal candidates

Picking the right people for this kind of board is vital. Intentions must align and, most importantly, there should be a universal desire for your company to succeed.

This is why it can be a good idea to set up a CAB that’s connected to your advocacy program. You already know these customers well and their loyalty is near-guaranteed, so you know that these customers have the same passion as you do for improving your company’s policies and direction.

Create an agenda

This goes in hand with the first point, but knowing what you want to complete within each meeting will help things from going too off the rails, especially when feelings are involved.

A time limit can go a long way to make sure any bigger personalities and issues don’t delay the other points you have planned for discussion.

Become a Customer Advisory Board master

CMA has launched its Master's certification for Customer Advisory Boards. This certification will equip you with the actionable tools, knowledge, and know-how needed to grasp the ins and outs of CABs.

  • Unsure how to get business buy-in from key stakeholders?
  • Don’t know how to source ideal CABs members?
  • Struggling to prepare an awesome agenda?

We’ve included every minute detail, every morsel of information, every fundamental topic to ensure your next (or first!) CAB has the AI factor - action and impact.