I’m often asked what are some of the best things you can do to have a great business that you might not be thinking about. After I talk with you for a while, I’m likely to say, “You know, if you had a customer advisory board “that would be something that would add a ridiculous “amount of value to your business.”

And, that my friends is what our video is about today. I want to talk with you about the world of customer advisory boards, some of my experiences with them and why you should seriously consider having one in your business.

 

 


Transcript

I’m often asked what are some of the best things you can do to have a great business that you might not be thinking about. After I talk with you for a while, I’m likely to say, “You know, if you had a customer advisory board “that would be something that would add a ridiculous “amount of value to your business.”

And, that my friends is what our video is about today. I want to talk with you about the world of customer advisory boards, some of my experiences with them and why you should seriously consider having one in your business.

Hi, I’m Josh Patrick the founder of Stage 2 Planning Partners and the Sustainable Business. I’m also the one who’s responsible for putting together our Cracking the Cash Flow Code Program and I’m the author of Sustainable: A Fable About Creating a Personally and Economically Sustainable Business.

Let’s first start off with what a customer advisory board is:

  • It’s a group of your customers that get together on a regular basis to help you take a look at your business from your customers’ point of view, and that’s a really important point. From your customers’ point of view, not your point of view.
  • Your goal is to get unbiased and honest feedback on what works for your customers and what doesn’t work for them.

When I’ve used customer advisory boards in my companies, and I’ve used them for many years, I have always learned things that I didn’t think were important to my customers are important for my customers or the viewpoint of what they see that I’m doing is completely different than what I saw. I remember when I was first in the insurance and investment business, I put together a customer advisory board and the purpose was to look at our financial planning process and to see what they thought about it.

And what happened was was really surprising. All the people sitting around the table, there were about seven people in the room with me and all of them said at the same time, this is not a financial plan, it’s just a scam to sell us life insurance. And I went, my God, how did I end up with that? It wasn’t my impression, it wasn’t my intention, it wasn’t what I wanted to do, but that’s how they saw it so I knew I needed to go back to the drawing board and completely redesign the report that I was giving because I really wanted to be about what it is for them to meet financial freedom, not a tool to sell life insurance to them.

Here’s how you put together a board:

  • First, have people on your board who are not only your best customers, the ones you want to be more just like them. And the reason is, if your customer advisory board is put together of people who you really like and who you like doing business with, they’re gonna give you suggestions about what you need to do in your business to attract more people just like them into your business.
  • You wanna make sure you have at least one curmudgeon on your board. I’ll tell you in a minute why that’s important.
  • You wanna make sure that the terms for the people on your board, and yes, you do want terms for the people in customer advisory board are staggered. The reason you want to have it be staggered is so that when you add people your board, you have people who remember what’s going on in the past but at the same time you’re bringing new people on with new ideas who will add new points of, to what you can do.
  • Finally, you want to be sending regular reports to your board members. You wanna keep them updated about what you talked about. It’s not fair to them and they’re not gonna like it that if you have them become one of your customer advisory board and you don’t give them follow-up reports, they’re not gonna know what you did with the suggestions that you made.

Let’s talk about running the meetings.

  • You don’t need a professional to run your customer advisory board, although it’s not a horrible idea. But you wanna be in the room at the same time.
    When I first started going down the road of doing customer advisory boards, I started out with what’s called focus groups. Focus groups are when you sit behind a window and there’s a marketing professional in the room asking your customers questions about your business and what would make it better.
    What I learned really fast in the focus group was, they weren’t asking the right questions. And then the marketing professional would say to me, yeah, but if you are on the board and you’re in the room, people will say nice things about you.
    You know, that’s why you need a curmudgeon. Because a curmudgeon is gonna sit there and say, you know, I don’t like what you’re doing or I don’t like this, or I don’t like that. Once somebody says something negative about your business, the room will open up, people will start talking with pure honesty about what you need to be doing to create a great business from their point of view.
  • It’s really important to the second point, do not argue with your members. You’re not there to defend your business. You’re there to get their ideas about your business can be better from their point of view.
  • Your job is to listen, not to defend, period, end of conversation. Your job is to listen, take notes, listen, take notes, ask clarifying questions. Your job is not to defend your business or what they have wrong about your business.
  • The last thing you wanna do is you wanna make sure you record the meetings because I can guarantee that while you’re in the meeting you’re going to miss great things. And you not only want to record the meetings, you’re gonna wanna have the meeting transcribed so you can read it afterwards and read it afterwards, and read it afterwards, over and over.

Here’s what you can expect from your customer advisory board:

  • you’re gonna expect the surprises about your business. You’re gonna have surprises about what they like and what they don’t like. And the surprises about what they don’t like give you an opportunity to change your business. Remember my story about my financial plan which people saw as a scam to sell life insurance.
  • The second thing you’re gonna do is your best customers are gonna start understanding more about your business. They’re gonna be curious about your business and as a result of being on your board, they’re gonna have a vested interest in helping your business become more successful.
  • You’re also gonna get referrals from these people you would never have had. You don’t wanna ask for referrals from them, those referrals are gonna come naturally. And they’re gonna come even more naturally if you have a few people on your board who are what I call connectors. Connectors are people who will naturally love to introduce you to other people.

So here’s a question I have for you. Are you willing to put together an advisory board in your business? What do you think about the idea of having a customer advisory board in your business?

And why don’t you let me know what you think about having an advisory board in the comments below and while you’re at it, DOWNLOAD our Free Ebook on How To Hire For Unique Abilities. You might even want to use some of these principles in putting together your own board.

This is Josh Patrick. You’re at the Sustainable Business. Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope to see you back here really soon.

Topics: Video, advisory board, board meetings, Sustainable Business, customer opinion, customer relations, great business, customer advisory board, business value, how to hire for unique abilities

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