Too often we think we know what our customers want. Too often, we miss the mark and come up with ideas and solutions that our customers aren’t interested in. The reason is very simple, we just don’t ask.
You know too often we think we know what our customers want, and too often, we miss the mark, and come up with ideas and solutions, that our customers aren’t even a little bit interested in. And the reason is very simple, we just don’t ask what our customers want.
One of the best ways in making sure we don’t give our customers what they don’t want, instead give them exactly what they want in the way they want, is by asking not one person at a time, but in a group.
You know, you could of course have phone conversations, go out to eat, or just visit with your customers one-on-one and ask, and you would get some good information that way, but not great information. Or you could use the power of a group, and start what I call a customer advisory board. And that’s what today’s video is all about.
It is about what a customer advisory board is, and some simple steps to have one established. But first, let me tell you a story about my own experience with a customer advisory board. About 20 years ago, I was putting together a new when I thought great financial planning format. So, I put together a group of five or six business owners who I had a lot of respect for, I took them out to dinner, we had a little private room. And I passed out the report and boy, did I get hammered. They thought the report was all about selling life insurance, and had nothing to do with their full financial situation. Boy, was I take it back. I was sure that my great report I had put together was talking specifically to business owners about what they needed to do to have a fully financially free life from their business. I learned so much in that meeting and so much from my advisory board then went back and redid all of those plans. So that one event convinced me that having a customer advisory board, is not a worth the effort. It can save you from hours, and hours, and hours, on projects that they’re just not interested in.
So here’s how you get one started first.
- First, make a list of your very best customers. You know, the ones that pay the best, and are the most fun to work with.
- Ask five to nine of them if they would be willing to serve on your customer advisory board. Now here’s what’s gonna happen. They’ll all say, yes. They’ll all be flattered to be asked. And you’re asking them to make your business better which is gonna benefit them.
- Three, and this is important, and I always get pushback on this, you must have a curmudgeon on your board. And this is a reason why. Nobody is going to tell you the truth till the board is opened up. And the board will only be opened up when their curmudgeon opens up their mouth and they say, you know, I like what you’re doing. I like your company. I think you’re good. But here’s where your problems are. If nobody’s gonna open up the space and talk about that, everyone’s gonna be nice. And the only way that you can make sure that the space has opened up, is having that curmudgeon on your board. Now the curmudgeon doesn’t have to be rude. They have to be just the people who are willing to speak up, and say things that may be a little bit uncomfortable, that others aren’t willing to say.
- Before you start your board meetings, you must make sure you have a well-thought-out agenda before you start your board. Now, a customer advisory board, doesn’t take a ton of your time. But it does take enough time for you to just think about, what’s a good agenda? What do you wanna have accomplished in that board meeting? And what would be the most value that your best customers can bring to you about what your company should be doing?
- You know, your job in the board meeting is to ask questions, and not defend how you run your business. I know it’s really, really hard to sit there, and listen to negative feedback, or listen to positive feedback even, and you wanna explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. Don’t, that’s not your purpose. When you start defending yourself and going into why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’re gonna shut down the board ’cause people aren’t gonna feel like they’re been listened to. Just record the meeting, make sure that you take really good notes, and don’t sit there and tell people why they’re wrong, and while you’re right.
- Number six, after the meeting send a report about what you’re going to do to the members of the board. It’s really frustrating to give a whole bunch of advice and you never hear anything back from people. This happens to me all the time, when I’m serving on someone else’s customer advisory board.
- Number seven, send your board periodic updates on what you’re doing. They wanna stay involved. They wanna know what you’re doing. You might even get some phone calls from that.
- And make sure that you have no more than four board meetings a year. I actually think two is enough. Some people do three, or four, but no more than four.
- And finally be prepared to buy dinner for everyone, and get a private room in a restaurant where we can gather again. But until then use zoom. Zoom works pretty well for this.
So I know how scary it is to start a customer advisory board. You might be scared that they’ll say terrible things, and all end up hating you. I can promise this won’t happen. In fact, the opposite will. What’s gonna happen is you’re gonna find that over time your customer advisory board keeps sending you those great customers that you’re looking for, because the more they understand about your business the more they can help you. And I can promise you that your best customers really wanna help you.
So you deserve to know exactly what your best customers want, and an advisory board is the best way to get there.
So starting an advisory board is easy. All you have to do is:
- Number one, start by having a conversation with us about what an advisory board is, and how you put it together.
- Two, plan and schedule your first advisory board session, or hire a coach to bring you through the process. I have a great guy I work with who is one of the best advisory board people in the country, I think, and is very, very good at helping you have an advisory board session that brings you a tremendous amount of value.
- And number three, harvest the benefits of raving fans who are supporting your business, and who also pay you money.
I would love to have a conversation with you about customer advisory boards. So feel free contacting me at firstname.lastname@example.org, to set up a time for us to talk.
In the meantime, if you’re not ready to talk DOWNLOAD our Free infographic on How To Establish A Customer Advisory Board. When you do this, you’ll end up giving your customers what they don’t want, or you’ll end up stop giving your customers what they don’t want, instead give them exactly what they do want.
And while you’re at it, scroll down and let me know what you think about editing a customer advisory board to your company with me.
Hey, 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.