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Tips for Setting Up Your Customer Advisory Board (CAB)

What is a Customer Advisory Board (CAB)?

A Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is a powerful tool for SaaS companies to maximize customer success. It helps drive better relationships between customers and the company, ensure customer satisfaction, and increase loyalty. Here are some top advantages that CABs can offer your company:

• Strengthen relationships with key customers
• Increase customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty
• Receive invaluable customer feedback on products, services, and strategies
• Gain insights into customer needs in order to develop better offerings
• Improve communication between customers and the company.

Your CAB deserves similar time and attention you give to other key stakeholder relationships such as investors and employees. The value in CABs is most often realized in regulated industries or with complex products and business models like enterprise software. Executives and department leaders can benefit from the expertise available from a CAB to facilitate understanding of the customer journey faster and more effectively. Learn more about the customer journey with this toolkit.

Build Your CAB with the Right Mix of Customers

Having the right mix of customers in your CAB can make all the difference. But there are many factors to consider when building a successful CAB, and it’s important to get it right from the start. Here are a few tips for setting up and running an effective CAB:

• Get the right mix of individuals. Aim for a group of 10-12 customers that represent a variety of characteristics, including big names and lesser known influencers who are passionate about your product.

• Find customer champions. Identify key users, forward-thinkers and innovators who can help drive the success of your CAB.

• Gain insight from your Customer Success Managers (CSMs) and others who work closely with customers to determine who should not be included, and who the top contenders should be.

• Invite from the top. Have a high-level executive such as the CEO directly invite customers to join your CAB, and outline all expectations, travel requirements and input needed.

When to Form Your First CAB

Even in the beginning stages of a business, it’s important to create an early customer advocacy CAB. This means forming a group of customers you can trust and rely on for honest feedback about your product and services. Start by identifying 5-10 people who are willing to provide input and help you improve your business.

As your company grows and evolves, it’s natural for customers to come and go. As your business gains more expertise, you’ll be able to service larger organizations. This means adding enterprise customers will give you a complete perspective of the customer base.

It’s important that your CAB reflects this changing landscape. Make sure to keep up-to-date with the customer feedback and ensure that you’re working with customers from all types of organizations. This will help you further understand their needs and develop your product in a meaningful way which meets the needs of each customer segment.

The CAB is an integral part of any successful SaaS business, so make sure to have a plan for
finding and managing a core customer base. With the right strategies, you’ll be able to create a profitable and successful customer journey that ensures customer retention and satisfaction.

Think About Your CAB’s Charter

One way to foster a sense of alignment is by drafting an official charter for your CAB. This charter should outline the mission and objectives of the board, as well as provide a vision for what you hope to achieve together. Be clear about why customers should expend the time and energy to be part of your CAB. Take Oracle’s Communications Product Suite Customer Advisory Board meeting goals for their attendees as an example – they outline carefully how members can expect to benefit from participating.

By having a clear set of expectations and goals in your CAB’s charter, SaaS companies can gain valuable insight into how their customers are using their products and where they are headed. This feedback allows you to develop the next generation of tools and services to better meet customer needs.

Hosting Your First CAB Meeting

As a top customer success management professional in the SaaS industry, you know how vital it is to stay on top of customer needs and feedback. Hosting your own Customer Advisory Board in-person meeting is an excellent way to ensure that your customers are providing direct, valuable input into product development and customer experience improvements.

When it’s time to plan your first CAB meeting, it is important to set a well-planned agenda that covers product and services, customer experience, open discussion and breakouts. Pragmatic Marketing has some great tips on how to structure a successful CAB meeting.

Once the initial in-person meetings are complete, there are still more ways that you can stay in tune with your customers. Sales and support interactions, social media, customer surveys and NPS scores are all excellent methods for gathering feedback from your customers on a regular basis. Additionally, consider usability studies, exit interviews and customer visits as additional ways to learn about customer experiences.

No matter where your company is in the customer success journey, there are always ways to gain insight from customers and show them appreciation. If you’d like to learn more about best practices for customer success management, check out our additional resources for more guidance.

Happy CAB-ing!

eBook: 5 Ways to Surprise & Delight Your Customers
Blog Posts:
3 Ways to Elevate Customer Success in Your SaaS Business
6 Listening Techniques of Great Customer Success Leaders
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