You’ve spent months planning your face-to-face customer advisory board (CAB) meeting. You interviewed each member to ensure your agenda contained topics in which they were interested. You reviewed all internal session presentations to confirm they would serve the members, the meeting agenda and objectives. Your meeting itself was expertly facilitated and members spoke 80% of the time, uncovering an abundance of valuable ideas and input to your company’s strategies, programs and product roadmap. The members raved about what an insightful meeting it was, and your superiors seemed to concur.
Congratulate your team for a job well done.
Unfortunately, your work is really just beginning, and this is no time to take a breather. As your CAB meeting may have unearthed a ton of excellent feedback and ideas for your company, you may even be feeling a bit overwhelmed as far as what to do next.
Here are the top 3 deliverables to promptly create that will sustain the good work from your meeting, and the associated best practices.
1. Meeting Report: This is a high-level summary of everything that took place at the meeting and includes:
• Member attendees
• Member insights
• Key company takeaways
• Potential action items from each session
• Quantitative member feedback from survey responses
We recommend the meeting report be a PowerPoint presentation that includes an executive summary that prioritizes the top action items on which your company plans to act. Distribute the report widely within your company to all company meeting attendees, executive management, sales and account teams, as well as marketing and product management – indeed anyone who could benefit from better understanding the challenges and desires of your best customers. (Indeed, who couldn’t use such information?)
Equally important, promptly distribute the report externally to the attending customer (or partner) meeting attendees, to confirm their ideas have been captured and a plan to act on them is, or will be, underway. Review the content it with members as soon as possible while the ideas are still fresh in their minds. The meeting report document is also a good way to review meeting results with any members that were unable to attend the meeting.
2. Plan for Ongoing Engagement: It’s definitely not good for your CAB program if there is no planned activity until your next meeting in 6 or 12 months. At minimum, your meeting report should include a planned timeline for member communication until the next meeting, consisting of one or more update calls or other engagement opportunities. In fact, this timeline is typically included and reviewed at the conclusion of the face-to-face meeting itself.
In addition, your CAB meeting may initiate (or continue) an initiative (or even multiple initiatives) for ongoing collaboration and engagement on a particular shared challenge raised during the meeting, around which members are energized to contribute in creating a solution. Many companies create a subcommittee chaired by one of the members and create a work plan with a stated objective, planned deliverable and timeline to update progress to the rest of the CAB members.
3. Action Tracker: If managed effectively, your face-to-face CAB meeting almost certainly uncovered an abundance of member ideas, suggestions, and desires – and potential action items for your company to take on. Capture all potential action items, and then prioritize them, assign a plan, deadline and leader to manage each who will see them to conclusion.
Typically companies pick the top 5 or 10 items on which to initially focus, based on customer priority. Most importantly, communicate these planned actions to the members via the meeting report, and be prepared to provide updates on your progress in subsequent calls and meetings. It’s critical you do so: members will lose interest in your CAB if they do not feel you are taking action on the input they provide.
Indeed, your face-to-face CAB meeting should not be viewed as the end of your program efforts, but really the beginning of a never-ending continuum of customer feedback. A solid, communication plan for ongoing engagement and contributions from your members is a requirement for a strong and successful CAB program over the long term.