CMSWire Contributor Q&A With Rob Jensen on Customer Advisory Board Success

CMSWire Managing Editor Dom Nicastro catches up with CMSWire Contributor Rob Jensen on improving your customer advisory board meet-ups.

We all need advisors in life. Our spouses. Our therapists. Our friends. Family. And for businesses, customers are usually the best ones. They’ve purchased your product or services. Literally felt your product. They know your customer experience and how it can be improved.

That doesn’t mean just sending out a calendar invite to a few select customers and meeting for an hour is going to be the most valuable — for your company but, more importantly, those customers.

CMSWire Contributor Rob Jensen wrote about five things your customer advisory board members will expect in your next meeting. And we caught up with Rob for a video Q&A.

Check out the full transcript, edited for clarity:

Keeping Customer Advisory Board Meet-ups Going in New World

Dom Nicastro: Rob Jensen joining us today, CMSWire contributor from Ignite Advisory Group. What’s going on Rob?

Rob Jensen: Hey, Dom, good to meet you. Good to be here.

Nicastro: Yeah, it’s great to have you. You’re a longtime CMSWire contributor, thank you for that. The contributors are the lifeblood of our website, no question about it. And you’ve been doing it since 2018. And, you know, your theme has been customer advisory boards. And we have another article today about that. And we’ll get into that in a moment. But I just wanted to, Rob, paint the picture of what’s been going on, in this area for customer advisory boards with the pandemic, I mean, this, this just totally blew up everything.

Jensen: Yeah, for the last couple years, I mean, everyone’s been, you know, no one’s been traveling, companies are worrying their employees are working from home. So for customer advisory boards, people just haven’t been meeting them in person. Now, what they’ve been doing is they’ve been meeting virtually through, you know, typical Zoom meetings, or whatever the format is. So companies are still doing that. And that’s been successful and good to at least keep the conversation going from when they were meeting, you can still engage with customers.

A lot of them might have had different challenges with, you know, the supply chain, for example. And then, interestingly, Dom, some customers that are on customer advisory boards, they’re actually doing really well, right? It might be like a grocery store, or it might be another chain, or it might be another company that’s actually doing really well. So it’s good to check in with your customers, make sure they’re doing okay and see how you can help them.

Related Article: Don’t Invite Prospects to Your Next Customer Advisory Board Meeting

Ensuring Follow-Up on Customer Suggestions

Nicastro: And I’ll tell you, literally, today, I sent an email to our advisory board at CMSWire, after editing your article, I said, oh, my, I have to do this. And what I did was I sent a follow up email to our board, and I showed them something tangible that happened based on their input. Nice. One of the things you talked about in the article that’s so important.

Jensen: Yeah, you know, one of the top areas that will be a problem for customer advisory boards, traditionally, is if you continue to meet with them, and they kind of wonder, hey, whatever happened with, you know, this idea that we had, or, you know, I made this suggestion, whatever happened with that, and customers will start to lose interest. Or if they don’t see progress, they can even start to drop out. Or they’ll question it, right?

So it’s always good to include in a meeting agenda, what, you know, kind of review previous input, like, here’s what we’ve heard, and here’s what we’ve done with it. Some of them we’ve been able to complete, right, some of them might be easy, low-hanging fruit, you may be, we’re going to have on your plot a product roadmap anyway.

And then some of them might be more difficult and might take more time. And then, you know, I mean, at least you’re saying, hey, we’re gonna do this, we need to work with our partner, or it’s on our roadmap or whatever. And then some of them, you know, sometimes customers will give you an idea, and it might be a good idea, and you just can’t do it, for whatever reason. It could be money, personnel, technology, limitations, whatever. And that’s okay to say, hey, that was great input. And you can, it’s good to say, you know, we like the idea, but we just can’t do it. And here’s why. Rather than, oh, let’s ignore that. And then hopefully, it’ll go away.

Nicastro: Right, right. It’s like, yeah, we talked about this, like, for 20 minutes in the last meeting, what’s the action from that? You know, and if there’s no action, like you said, it’s okay. But give them an update. We looked into this, it didn’t quite jibe with what we were talking about.

Related Article: 5 Ways to Create the Ultimate Customer Advisory Board Meeting for 2022

Establish Success With Customer Advisory Board Charter

Nicastro: And then, another thing you mentioned is, you know, the idea of whoever leads those boards is going back to that document from the beginning that promise, that email, if it’s a living document, fine, if it’s an email outline, fine. But always going back and remembering what you promised to the customer advisory board.

Jensen: Right, right. Hopefully, when companies establish the customer advisory board, they put together a charter document, which really is just, you know, put down on paper of what this board is going to be about, what the membership is, what are the goals, what is the mission, what’s the scope.

And over time, sometimes that mission and can kind of creep a little bit, right? Maybe, you know, due to input or limitations that, you know, that the topics have kind of meandered a bit. And that might have happened due to COVID with the lockdowns and people doing things virtually. So when customers are getting back to meeting in person, it’s probably a good idea to take a look back at that charter document and just make sure that you are, you know, doing what you promised you’re doing as part of your program. And a lot of times the customers themselves remember that too. And they agreed to participate on a board that focuses on this topic with these goals. And if that’s kind of morphed or changed, you want to address that. It may be a change because the customers wanted it.

But there might be some customers who might say, hey, wait a minute, this change is not what I agreed to. So it’s good to know, hey, just revisit it, make sure that you’re sticking to what you agreed to what you said you were going to do.

Related Article: What Every Host Company Should Bring to a Customer Advisory Board Meeting

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