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Eyal Danon, President and Founder of Ignite Advisory Group.
In order to obtain the best results from your customer advisory board (CAB), members should consist of those holding titles and roles that are as similar as possible. That way, your CAB is made up of industry colleagues who share comparable business challenges. That doesn’t mean, however, that your CAB should be a homogenous group of identical thinkers.
Here are six ways you can broaden your CAB program membership in order to bring in fresh ideas and uncover out-of-the-box thinking.
Different Industries: One of the best and perhaps easiest ways to expand your CAB is to include members representing a range of industries. By doing so, you’ll enable your members to gather insights into other business verticals they otherwise might not see and potentially uncover new, innovative ways of doing things. It’s always interesting to me (and CAB members) to see the similarities of challenges shared by various business realms and the different ways they go about addressing them.
Company Size: When recruiting CAB members, host companies often default to identifying the largest companies and/or their largest customers as desired members. And while this is a good place to start, small- and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) should also be considered — not only to provide a different perspective, but also to highlight some innovative use cases. SMB members also usually have broader insights into their company’s overall operations, further providing more insightful contributions.
New Accounts: While recruiting longtime customers can ensure familiarity of your products’ use, doing so exclusively may not yield as many novel use cases or new ideas to your CAB. New accounts can not only illuminate innovative use cases, but many have not been exposed to your other resources, support or messaging, so they can bring “fresh eyes” and experiences to your board.
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People New to Their Roles: While it’s good to have experienced professionals on your CAB, bringing in people a bit newer to their roles may, again, offer new ideas and approaches to which experienced pros may not have been previously exposed. Furthermore, CAB members who are new to their roles are usually eager to learn from their peers and thus enthusiastic CAB members who are excited to participate in your program.
Innovative Product Use: It’s always wise to include members on your CAB who do things a bit differently or are using your products in a unique way. Doing so may not only provide your CAB members with some ideas on how to tackle incremental challenges, but it might also lead to some organic cross-sell opportunities that otherwise might not have existed.
Geographies: It’s always good to include a mix of companies from various geographies on your board, as they may be exposed to different markets, regulations, employees or other dynamics from which your other CAB members can learn. Often, certain regions of the country may be exposed to changing market conditions that will likely be coming to other areas, providing your CAB members a preview — and opportunity — to learn how to get ahead of them for maximum benefit.
While your CAB membership should include “birds of a feather” who share similar business challenges, you can still broaden your group to ensure different ideas and perspectives are brought to your engagements. Your members will appreciate this, and your company will get the most benefit from its CAB initiative.
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Author: Eyal Danon, Forbes Councils Member
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