Importance of Customer Advisory Board

“The more professional you are the better client base you end up with – it’s as simple as that.”

Everyone seeks and gives advice – in some capacity or the other. This is a healthy interdependence and allows people to make more informed decisions or just see things from a different perspective. It is similar for businesses – they need advice too irrespective of the size of the company or the duration they have been in business.  Being able to fall-back on some great advice increases the chance of success for any company. Companies get advice from their shareholders, board of directors and even employees on an informal and random basis regarding their business and customer dealings. However for sustained and structured advice companies are increasingly looking to forming a customer advisory board.

A customer advisory board can prove to be a vast repository of vital knowledge of the industry and also would have in-depth understanding of the company that uses them. They collect their information from internal discussions, industry speak and other accurate means of gaining ‘intelligence’ that can be used by the company to make better their strategies, tighten their operations and make significant improvements in the way the company is run to ensure that they forge ahead and stay ahead of competition.  A customer advisory board guides and supports a company in developing a more sound and robust road map, help with promoting the brand and the message it conveys, provide feedback and whole gamut of activities that can make a company more professional and thereby attract a larger and more loyal customer base.

While each company may have different reasons for setting up such a board, the crucial outcome of almost all of them is a company that finds favour with customers and lets them trust that the company is committed and focused on their interests. When customers are happy there is little else that can stop a company from becoming successful and highly reputed in the market place – a force to reckon with.

Private and smaller companies sometimes may find it hard to divert some control and power in the hands of people typically not from the company – like a board of directors. However, a customer advisory board can provide the advice and necessary guidance required for such companies to see the benefits and establish a comfort level with a group of ‘outsiders’ who can be immensely beneficial. This board can assist with bringing to the fore the details and realities of operating in different locations that would have different set-ups, cultures and whole lot of factors that maybe dissimilar to what the company is used to. Not only does the company understand a new location and spread their operations, they can do so without letting go of any power or control.

A customer advisory board is the first step- a stepping stone to the formation of a board of directors. For the BOD to be effective and work together in unison for the benefit of a company, they must have similar skills, be able to work together and have a mind-set that matches. The customer advisory board can therefore be formed to allow the company to see how each individual functions and the contributions they make individually and how passionate and committed they are to make the company a success. The success of a company depends on a number of factors, but being able to serve customers well and portray a seamless and single face to them is usually a clincher and a customer advisory board can provide the company with the know-how and intelligence without the company giving away any control.

The great part of having an advisory board is that even a small number of people will suffice at first and often prove more effective than large bodies. However, what the most appropriate size of the advisory board should be is not a definitive and depends from company to company. A company can seek out an individual too on the advisory board for support or advice if so required.

There would be times when owners of companies and those at helm of affairs of businesses find themselves stuck because they are so bogged down by the issues of managing the business. At such times they would yearn for a trusted group or at least one person whom they can trust to give good advice and meaningful and effective guidance. There are also times when emergency situations require immediate resolutions and attention and then too help might be required. In such cases too, a customer advisory board can provide assistance and support based on their knowledge of the company. Such bodies have enough information and interest to provide reliable advice and given that they would be receiving adequate compensation, they would be committed and would take the issue seriously enough to provide relevant and useable advice.

Companies consider a customer advisory board as anchors and shelters – allowing them feel more comfortable in taking chances and use this board as a ‘test’ before plunging into making a complete set of BOD. Even the top brass of a company would be more at ease when speaking to and expressing views before the customer advisory board – since their sole job is to provide advice and helpful information. This board can help with suggestions of change and other relevant aspects without the pressure of being forced to take on every suggestion they make. This is one of the main differences between a BOD and an advisory board.

The other benefit of a customer advisory board is to act as a bridge between companies and other customer companies. Since the advisory board is made up of experienced and senior level people of companies that are customers, they are in a better position to provide inputs from a customer perspective in addition to strategic direction and advice on industry trends. The inputs they provide are so useful since they are focused on the particular business need rather than being torn and distracted by different issues. Companies can have the particular issue addressed speedily rather than being worried about engaging in the sorting out of a plethora of issues and formalities as is the case with BOD meetings.

A customer advisory board serves as a sounding board and is largely effective in alleviating customer and company issues since they would be well-versed with both sides of the issue at hand. The meetings that are held on these pertinent issues are also shorter in length as they focus on the issue minus the formalities and rigmarole of BOD meetings.

In addition, to the benefits above, the compensation and monetary expenditure on a customer advisory board is much lower than a BOD and also market consultants. In the case of market consultants, the other down-side is that the level of commitment and dedication would not be as high as the advisory board and they would be doing the job only for the compensation. The time, cost and other resources spent on forming a customer advisory board are more than offset by their level of knowledge, ability to advice and commitment.

A customer advisory board is the ideal way for a company to gather data and invaluable information on a number of issues that would help them get better each day for their customers. As customer experiences get enhanced a company will reap the benefits of market leadership, enhanced profits and success – that is almost guaranteed. Given that the members are customers too – your company’s commitment will ensure that these members become your most loyal brand advocates too.

Learn about a new approach to better customer service!

Interactive Guides for Superior Customer Service

Create interactive decision trees for customer service management, cold call scripts or self-service. Improve sales performance metrics and customer delight across your call centers.

Interactive Decision Tree