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Customer advisory boards (CABs) are a great way for organizations to sit down with their high-profile customers and gather feedback and advice from this VIP audience. CABs present an opportunity to find out what you’re doing right and where adjustments could be made to better serve the needs of your most important customers.

Digital customer advisory boards serve as an extension of traditional CAB programs, allowing organizations to hold virtual sessions and eliminate many of the logistical concerns that may stand in the way of engagement. But digital CABs are not merely a low-cost alternative to use when holding in-person meetings is impractical; they can drive real business value, helping improve organizations in many ways.

These four benefits highlight the business value that digital CABs can deliver.

1. Guide strategic decision-making with informed insight

The executive leaders, senior-level decision-makers, and C-suite officers who typically make up a customer advisory board can provide valuable insights into the direction of your organization and offer advice on any course corrections that need to be made.

Digital CABs help companies gather this feedback by making it easier for your most influential customers to join virtual CAB sessions. Stakeholders don’t have to worry about coordinating schedules or setting up travel arrangements, because VIP members can participate from any location and at any time. Organizations can ensure that their most important customers have a chance to contribute and provide their informed guidance and insight.

For digital CABs, the barrier to entry is much lower. This enables organizations to scale their efforts by increasing the frequency or cadence of activities and may enable them to include customers previously unwilling to participate due to the required travel. With ongoing, greater access to powerful strategic insights, organizations can make more informed decisions and better identify patterns and trends that emerge from customer feedback.

2. Validate your product roadmap

Product roadmaps need to be continually revised and updated to account for shifting customer needs and demands. According to a 2018 ProductPlan survey, 41% of product managers make changes to their product roadmap priorities on a weekly or monthly basis. In many cases, those adjustments are necessary because it’s difficult to get everyone on the same page: 30% of survey respondents stated that their biggest challenge is building a consensus on the roadmap’s direction.

There’s no better way to get a rudderless product roadmap back on track than to consult your most important customers. Digital CABs present many opportunities to gather frank feedback from your VIP members, whether it’s through virtual group sessions or one-on-one discussions, and incorporate those insights into your product roadmap. Product managers will encounter much less resistance with their roadmaps when they have the validation of the company’s elite customers and biggest revenue sources standing behind them.

3. Increase sales and customer retention

When organizations conduct CAB programs, they are essentially capturing the voice of their most important customers. The strategic input that VIPs offer can be leveraged to improve products and services, brand messaging, customer outreach, support efforts, and much more.

By aligning their corporate vision and long-term strategy with the guidance provided by CAB members, organizations are able to deliver offerings and an overarching customer experience that meets the expectations of their most discerning and demanding customer segments. In turn, that means products and services are more likely to resonate with their customer base, driving increased sales and keeping long-time customers in the fold.

Digital CABs make it easier to collect and share member insights to refine business strategies and improve company offerings. Every comment is documented and every video session is recorded so no vital piece of feedback or advice can slip through the cracks. Stakeholders can also gather information in real time and make those insights readily available at a moment’s notice, allowing organizations to dynamically respond to VIP demands and incorporate their feedback into their decision-making process.

4. Strengthen business relationships and build customer advocacy

When organizations measure customer lifetime value (CLV), the focus is often placed on the direct revenue that individual or business produces. However, that view of CLV is somewhat limited, as it does not account for the long-term benefits of your strongest brand advocates occupying influential positions within an organization or industry.

Forging a lasting relationship with senior-level customer leaders should be a major priority of any CAB program, and digital CABs provide more opportunities to build a strong rapport with your VIP members. They may not have the benefit of in-person meetings, but they make up for it by helping organizations close the feedback loop.

The target audience for a customer advisory board are high-level executives and strategic decision-makers who are often pressed for time. If they choose to participate in a CAB, it’s because they see an opportunity to influence business strategy within their preferred vendors, distributors, and business partners. They want to inform decision-making to benefit their own companies.

Closing the feedback loop is essential in that regard, but many CAB programs miss the mark. With a digital CAB, you can follow up with members and share the results of your meetings, as well as show the direct influence they’ve had on your business strategy. That will not only encourage further participation, but it will strengthen the bonds between your organization and your high-value customers.

Digital CABs provide more ways to engage VIPs, document their insights and measure the impact of your CAB program. They remove engagement obstacles and encourage high-value customers to share informed opinions and advice that can help guide businesses to new heights of success. Contact our team today to learn more.