In 2002, marketers began utilizing the executive-level Customer Advisory Board (CAB) as a means of gaining a deeper, more strategic understanding of their customers and the markets they serve. By engaging with the executive leaders of their key accounts, host companies are able to facilitate deep dialogue that shines a light on where their customers are heading with their businesses, and align their marketing strategies to be on point with their future requirements.
An executive-level Customer Advisory Board should not be viewed as a one-off event but rather a long-term, cross-functional initiative spearheaded by the CEO. A CAB is intended to provide a level of focus on the customers that goes deeper with regard to the conversation and higher with regard to the level of customers with whom the host company is engaging.
Investing in customer relationships undoubtedly yields big results when it comes to future growth. By inviting a small group of key customers to have a seat at your table, you are in effect asking the people who pay for your products and services to become members of your team.
With access to the leadership team of their key suppliers, CAB members naturally become invested in the success of the business, and oftentimes become advocates of the brand because they have an understanding of and confidence in the roadmap ahead.
Some of the key Customer Advisory Board benefits include the ability to:
Gain a keen understanding of market conditions and how that impacts buying decisions
Enhance rapport with key customers
Drive loyalty – the best customers now have a seat at the table
Risk mitigation – validation that strategies are on point
Test new ideas and campaigns
Share learning of topics of mutual interest
Identify untapped sources of revenue
Create strong advocates for the brand and the organization
Discuss customers’ strategic priorities
Achieve internal team alignment around specific strategies
Innovate in collaboration with those for whom products and services are provided
There is an undeniable benefit to the executive team and the organization as a whole when marketers can provide this high-level, high-value insight directly from key decision makers. Our experience and outside research illustrates the following:
B2B host companies enjoy a double digit expansionin revenue-related activity among key accounts
100% retention rate among participants
By increasing customer engagement, Gallup clients saw:
25% increase in customer loyalty
20 percentile-point increase in customer confidence
66% higher sales growth
Branding and positioning feedback (50 percent)*
Betsy Westhafer is the owner of The Congruity Group, an organization that helps mid-market and large companies gain strategic insights through the use of Customer Advisory Boards. Betsy has worked with teams to design and facilitate customer advisory boards for companies including Dell, LexisNexis, VeriSign, Springer and Adobe. In this capacity, Betsy delivered advisory boards around the world including in the UAE, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Jordan, Mexico and throughout the United States. Betsy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 513-550-1701.