Question: I’m in the very beginning stages of planning a Customer Advisory Board. It’s a goal of mine to have it kicked off by the end of Q2. Have any of you implemented one? Any good resources you’ve used? I’m building out a WIFM for our Customers and for us, outlining expectations for members and developing a profile for ideal members.

Member 1: We have implemented CAB and it is once a year. We invite our top revenue clients and do an offsite for two days. We typically involve Marketing, Customer Success, and Product to present or help coordinate the agenda. The agenda typically focuses on these areas.

Industry trends/updates we are seeing.

  1. Our product roadmap
  2. Feedback from our clients around our product and the roadmap
  3. Brainstorming session around what we need to stop, start or continue.
  4. Any new processes/changes we are rolling out.
  5. Clients present their goals for the year and any challenges they are experiencing.
  6. We have received feedback from our clients they value time together just to brainstorm and learn from one another so we schedule the time for them to do that throughout the two days.

Member #2: We are organizing our first in-person CAB next Tuesday - I will let you know how it goes! We have opted for a half-day in person and limited the number of invites to our 10 largest customers.

Agenda is a workshop format from 2 to 5 PM and then drinks from 5 to 6:30PM:

  • Product Updates - lead by our CPO: latest releases, coming soon, and a large discovery section where the product team has a whole host of questions prepared for customers to make sure they are building the right thing
  • Engagement Best Practices - lead by the CSMs
  • Open discussion - for this we will ask our customers to suggest what is top of mind for them (regarding our product or the travel industry), and then vote for the top ideas they want to discuss (via Slido). And then let them discuss ! (we are preparing back-up topics)
  • Drinks, with our whole exec team joining

We also prepared all of this with the Marketing and Product Teams (CSMs are coordinating).

We then plan to have our CABs every 6 months, alternating one in-person and one by conf call. We might extend to more customers depending on the feedback. Interested to know what others have done. Member #1, I really like your agenda - pretty amazed you manage to get customers for 2 full days. That’s quite an achievement!

Member #3: I’ll share what we do and also impressed by what #1 has shaped up and what #2 is preparing to do, great work! Where we are at in our company cycle is different (read: public scale), but I’ll share what we do and leverage what you see of value. We call ours the ‘Executive Advisory Board’ or EAB. This requires a few things from the customer and in turn the expectation is that they receive ‘special treatment’ in the form of they have a strategic voice with our executive team.

Our EAB meets three times per year (once per geo, I.e. Americas, EMEA, & APAC). We typically group this with a conference that we are doing in one of those geos, which those execs attend as well.

Requirements to be a member of our EAB:

  • Active, multi-year subscription Account (typically > X in subscription spend, this will depend on your business)
  • be in a C-level or similar role (VP, CxO, etc., depending on the company titles)
  • be willing to participate in one in-person meeting during the year (incl. travel)
  • be an executive of or have strong say on their company’s data management strategy or technology decisions
  • represent an organization that is very strategic to our success forward; has needs that reflect the forefront of our mission and technology; where a partnership is essential to both organization’s success
  • be a recognized brand name or leader in their industry
  • be a deployed customer (production) for some time

Dinner the night before (most attendees need to fly in, this is typically informal)
Full day

Typical EAB agenda

  • Kick-off - General state of the union (45 mins) CEO
  • Marketing Overview (60 mins): CMO/CPO
  • Networking Break: 30 Mins
  • Strategic Product Roadmap Review (90 Mins): CPO
  • Lunch
  • Deep dive on a specific business area (two 60 min sessions): Core business leaders (or product leaders)
  • Roundtables: Break customers into group interests based on core area of their business, pair with leaders from your company (60 Mins) - Goal here is to get them hearing feedback from each other and general discussion from what they have already heard during the day
  • Networking Break: 30 Mins
  • Recap of roundtables & general customer feedback (60 Mins)
  • Close with formal dinner

This format seems to work well, we keep it to < 30 attendees and generally have a large portion of the leadership team attend these.

Before the EAB all execs get a profile & summary of each attendee including an overview of their business, history with us, and an ‘about them’. The account team will typically put this together with our Marketing team. This is a chance to show how much you know about your customers as well, which is very important to them.

Member #4: Ours is very transparent. We call ours the Customer Reference Program and here’s the outline of our existing program.