Understanding the needs of customers is imperative to achieving a myriad of tangible successes, whether finite objectives of greater market share or increased customer retention rate. Impartial, honest customer feedback is a valuable asset that if truly understood, can reap effective results, as noted with traditional focus groups and customer surveys. However, conducting important qualitative research in these formats can also yield unfavourable feedback, including stock-standard, unconsidered responses due to the absence of emotional motivation that will truly help improve the organisation in question.
So what if you had a panel of your most valuable customers , who can also provide impartial yet critical insights who gathered with the combined sole purpose to further your business’s success?
OUR M-CAB MEMBERSHIP
Here at Miei, our M-CAB (Miei Customer Advisory Board) is a group of our key customers and clients, who believe in our company mission and offer their broader view on our services, product offerings, initiatives and provide individual impressions of our business. Our membership includes customers who we refer to as “advocates''- a mix of members who have been with us since early on in our business journey and also newer customers, but all who have seen, and played an active part in, our company’s evolution. We also invite our entire team to sit in on proceedings, to ensure everyone can weigh in with their own opinions - with the collaborative objective to gauge improvements in all areas of Miei’s operations, guided by our annual internal company goals.
The key purpose for our M-CAB is to construct a governing body, who helps us remain aligned to our mission and core values, while also being actively invested in the holistic success of our business and goals. The discussion for each session is centred around a single or multiple agenda topic point/s, relevant to our overarching annual goal. For example, our FY 19/20 company focus was “Customer Satisfaction”, so our first M-CAB session’s agenda topic was “Customer Service”. Objectives for our M-CAB remain the same for each session, however through the ever-changing agenda topics, outcomes and feedback drawn from each meeting are always pertinent to achieving the specific goal. You will also find our objectives align with multiple studies concluding the benefits of customer advisory boards.
Our common objectives include:
- To unite champions for our brand
- To validate product ideas and guide the product roadmap
- To help shape our marketing messaging
- To gather market insight & intelligence (Miei, 2020).
THE OPPORTUNITIES OF CUSTOMER ADVISORY BOARDS
As mentioned previously, we refer to all our M-CAB members as ‘advocates’, as they not only speak highly of our business to others and may refer to us, but are committed to engaging our professional services on a frequent basis. Studies have shown that companies with an engaged and successful customer advisory board incur a 9% increase in new business among members, one year after the commencement of the CAB program, compared to non-advisory council customers.
According to consultancy group Ignite, product direction is the top benefit of CAB’s for businesses. Our Miei Customer Advisory Board offers us an insight on how and why our products & services are being utilised and what our customer may desire above and beyond our current offering, including desired improvements to the existing offering. Our M-CAB were also the first public audience to test our beta version of our new website, offering immediate validation, constructive critiques and solutions to problems we had trouble solving ourselves.
Our M-CAB sessions are an opportunity to discuss our current and future larger business plans, while also receiving input on additional matters such as current trends, messaging and customer experience. We’ve found members also offer insightful direction on which scope of services to improve as well as their experience with a competitive service or product in the past (while adhering to our confidentiality clause).
As a growing business with limited resources to invest in marketing & promotion, our members are a crucial resource in determining how to position, or re-frame miei in the marketplace. All members really understand our brand tone of voice and personality, and quickly notice when our messaging may be disjointed from who we are as a brand. We have also been privileged that all members have agreed to write testimonials and provide headshots to include on our website, again highlighting their commitment as true ‘advocates’ of miei.
Through our own personal experience, we have enjoyed the benefits of our Miei Customer Advisory Board including obtaining valuable input on all aspects of our business. Most importantly, we have created an engaged community of like-minded individuals who are mutually aligned to our mission and committed to ensuring the longevity of our business.