For CSMs, hearing from customers daily about the platform, features, and value-based services can quickly become par for the course. But for other departments and groups within your company – and, indeed, for customer success as a function – feedback and advice from customers can be crucial to determining the future state of your organization and product.
This is why many SaaS organizations have a Customer Advisory Board to gather this feedback while saying thank you to your loyal customers. Customer Advisory Boards are great ways to gather insights from real-world customers on anything from product features to new ideas and even new markets for your platform.
Setting Up your Customer Advisory Board
Regardless of your organization’s size, shape, or industry, it would help if you worked with a Customer Advisory Board as soon as you start. Having c-level or executive customer contacts helping to guide your internal decision-making is incredibly valuable. As your team grows, the types of customers your Board is comprised of may change over time. It is equally important, however, to ensure your organization is growing with the market.
Your Customer Advisory Board should:
- Represent a good mix of the size of customer organizations or the industries represented in your customer portfolio.
- It consists of ten to twelve individuals, all serving at the executive or c-level.
- Bring unique perspectives to the table, whether it is the size of an organization, platform features they’re currently using, or the market segment they represent.
- Be constantly changing as new customers come on Board and others churn.
Running your Customer Advisory Board meetings
Your customers – especially those in an executive or c-level position, are busy running their businesses. This is why a Customer Advisory Board meeting should be fun and exciting. Now is your chance to thank your customers and give them the recognition and pampering they deserve.
It’s a good idea to treat your Customer Advisory Board meetings as little mini-conferences. While the meeting itself should be front and center, take time for some activities, a nice dinner or cocktail party, and other little extravagances. During the meeting itself, make sure your team:
- Has a detailed agenda planned out with a specific focus on idea sharing, breakouts, discussion, etc.
- Plans in advance to host at least three, preferably four Customer Advisory Board meetings a year.
- Have a game plan coming out of the meeting for innovation or change that customers can readily hold your team accountable.
One unique thing about Customer Advisory Board meetings is that these meetings represent a subset of your customer population that gets it when it comes to your product. They are pushing your product to its limits to innovate and grow to meet customer needs continuously. Your Customer Advisory Board isn’t pushing your organization to change; it’s causing your team to develop the most customer-centric organization possible.
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