Is There a Seat for Your Customer in Your Board Room?


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We recently had the privilege of facilitating a Customer Board of Directors meeting for the services division of one of our clients, a Fortune 500 industrial manufacturer. Our client brought together senior-level people (including COOs, Directors, and VPs) from their key accounts for two main reasons:

1. To get feedback on their strategy
2. To build high-level relationships within key accounts

As you’d expect, board members had plenty to say about their suppliers’ performance and the future of their own companies. It’s always fascinating to hear these types of conversations and to help our client shift their strategy as a result of executive-level feedback.

Below are some of the key takeaways we gathered from our discussions:

* Some very different organizations – different geographies, verticals, business models, etc. – have some very similar challenges in 2009. Efforts to “go green” the right way, and to attract, develop, and retain top talent are on almost all leaders’ minds.

* Outsourcing is not dead – but companies have grown cautious. If you’re going to be in the outsourcing business, your people had better be AT LEAST as capable as the people I can find on my own.

* Many organizations are wrestling with the impact Moore’s Law will have on their organizations, industries, and customers. These companies have realized that truly understanding their customers’ expectations for support relative to ever-changing technology will be critical in forming effective marketing strategy.

* Even if you have great people, without good tools and processes to support them, you’re relying on individual efforts, sometimes heroic ones, to meet customer needs.

* If you think you’ve done all that you can do to demonstrate value for your customers – keep going. The value story has no ending.

We’ve been a part of this client’s Customer Board of Directors process for several years, and while the board members have changed, the importance of the insight that comes out of these discussions has not wavered. Our client needs input from key contacts at high levels, and this process helps them get it.

As an unintended benefit, our client organization has seen new business opportunities emerge from this annual event. Customers that talk to each other about the solutions and results our client provided does as much as any sales call or marketing message ever could. Good things happen when customers get together. Who knew?

Eric Engwall
Managing Partner
E.G. Insight

Nick Wassenberg
Research Analyst
E.G. Insight

Nick Wassenberg
E.G. Insight helps companies listen to their customers. We work with mostly Fortune 1 B2B companies, like industrial manufacturers, engineering/construction firms, health care and insurance providers, among others. We help our client implement customized methods to capture in-depth feedback from critical business relationships. My role at E.G. Insight is to tell the story that's found in customers' feedback and help our clients take action. So, I'm a customer feedback analyst, ombudsman, and marketing metrics geek.


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