How to Raise The Bar on Your Customer Experience With an Advisory Board

Posted: Updated:
Raquel Richardson is a practice lead with Centric Consulting. Raquel Richardson is a practice lead with Centric Consulting.

Survey after survey brings in results indicating one of the most exciting areas for revenue growth in the coming year will be done by listening to customers. The online survey side of listening is usually where most companies begin. To me, that misses the mark. To really hone-in on how your customer can help you thrive in the coming year, start with an advisory board.

Having your customers weigh in on your company strategy is one of the most valuable assets to any organization. Most executives agree with this statement, yet when it comes to getting the board off the ground, it doesn’t happen. Reasons sound like “we’re too busy to get that done this year,” to “we already know what our customers think.” This is fair – you likely have a good pulse on what your customers like and dislike about your service or product and yes, you’re busy. Who isn’t, your customers included! This is exactly when and why you need to push pause on the swirl around your work and take time to listen.

When you think about key areas where you can compete, a few come to mind:  product features, price and customer experience. You can forever be fighting the good fight on your product and service, and you can continually guess at promotions and pressure around pricing; or, you can fine tune your customer experience to keep the enhancements on the right track and your customers coming back. Companies who deeply understand what their customers want and evolve to those needs are the companies that will win.

When you think about the customer experience, think broad. The roadmap typically hits on four key phases: 

Awareness. Where they know nothing about you and then they do. You get on their radar and they begin discovering how they can progress toward working with you, or, they can begin to feel the forces that detract.

Buy. Where they have bought or signed up for your product or service. They’re in your web. You aren’t exactly sure why just yet, but you’ve got them. They continue to learn what they like about you and dislike with more certainty.

Use. Where they tried you out. This spot typically gets the most focus because, by the nature of the effort, the experience happens.

Support. Where they decide if they’ll use you a second time. Where they form an emotional attraction, indifference or resistance to working with your company again.

Creating a Customer Advisory Board allows you to review, evaluate and hear feedback on each area above as well as learn about touch points that helped seal or break their overall experience. As added value, I like to also use an advisory board to learn about other themes in the industry my customers know about that maybe I don’t. I want to hear direct feedback on where we see our company going in the future and if we are aligned on our customer’s needs. Here is a suggested flow to structuring an advisory board agenda:

Bring your customers in the night before and treat them to a dinner and/or an event that’s social. This gets your group talking and feeling comfortable so they bring that feeling to tomorrow’s meeting. Remember, you want them talking and sharing their perspective and opinions. For most individuals, this means they need to feel relaxed and safe before they share.

Start the meeting the next morning with an ice breaker and introductions. Make it fun. I’ve heard “that’s cheesy” more than once to some of my ice breakers but they really work to break down the screens we can often put around ourselves in a meeting setting. You’ll also want to set ground rules here as you see fit based on the level of privacy on the conversation and data shared.

Start an open dialog about your industry. Ask participants about the themes and data they see and share what your company is seeing based on your data. The sharing back is important here; do not simply spend the day taking. Sharing what you see helps show your leadership in the industry and build loyalty among your participants.

Consider if a deep dive topic fits your audience and how best to execute the topic. Building in exercises where your group needs to collaborate together in smaller groups can be a good way to get people together and building around the topic.

Talk about the future and your strategic direction. What’s relevant and what needs adjusted? Where is your customer base going to find the most value? Ask, ask, ask. If your organization is product heavy, show the roadmap and get feedback to what’s coming.

Wrap up and talk about next steps. Usually, there will be action items out of this group for follow up. You’ll want to recognize those steps and get them in motion as quickly as possible. More reasons to stay in touch with your best customers!

When done well, an advisory board can help guide your company, place priority on your marketing efforts and build a loyal customer base. Making the time to do those three things should be vital in your planning, even when you’re too busy.

Raquel Richardson is a practice lead with Centric Consulting.

  • Perspectives

    • World Refugee Day Shines Light on Untapped Pool of Talented Workers

      From Fortune 500 companies to local small businesses, a similar theme rings true. In this strong economy where unemployment is low and growth is high, companies are competing for top talent. In Indianapolis - according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics - unemployment is just 2.8 percent, and investment and job growth are on the rise. This is great news for Indianapolis-area residents looking for work or opportunities to advance their careers, but for businesses and...


Company Name:
Confirm Email:
INside Edge
Morning Briefing
BigWigs & New Gigs
Life Sciences Indiana
Indiana Connections


  • Most Popular Stories

    • (file photo courtesy of Radial)

      Radial Opens Fulfillment Center in Brownsburg

      Pennsylvania-based Radial Inc. says its new fulfillment center in Brownsburg is now open. The e-commerce technology and operations company says the nearly 700,000-square-foot facility is the largest in its network and will have the capacity to house about 2,000 employees.

    • Franciscan Health Details Data Breach

      Mishawaka-based Franciscan Health is providing details of a data breach. The health system says an internal investigation found one of its employees accessed the protected health information of about 2,200 patients "without a business reason."  Franciscan says the vast majority of the affected medical records was limited to demographic information such as name, address, email address, date of birth, phone number, gender, race/ethnicity, the last four digits of...

    • Malika Butler

      IMA Promotes Butler

      The Indiana Manufacturers Association has promoted Malika Butler to assistant vice president of governmental affairs. She has served the past year as government affairs & communications specialist.
    • Lilly Exec Named BioCrossroads CEO

      After a national search, BioCrossroads has announced Patty Martin will become the life science initiative's next president and chief executive officer. Martin, who most recently served as chief operating officer for Lilly Diabetes, will begin her new role Monday. She will become just the third CEO in the organization's 17-year history, and succeeds David Johnson, who in December announced plans to step down from the role to serve as president and CEO of the...

    • (rendering courtesy of Jones Development Co.)

      New Business Park Planned for Whiteland

      Missouri-based Jones Development Co. has begun construction on a new business park in Johnson County. The 2.4 million-square-foot Whiteland Exchange will be located on 167 acres near I-65 in Whiteland.  Financial terms of the developer's investment in the project were not disclosed. The business park is slated to include modern industrial buildings for logistics, advanced manufacturing and related uses. Work is underway on the first two speculative buildings, which total nearly...