Or, do you want both?
Many companies use either a user group or client advisory boards to help them improve their product offerings as well as have their customers help make their business better. Whether you use one or both will depend on your company’s needs as well as the amount of time and resources you have to use on these types of projects.
A client advisory board is for business issues as well as learning what drives your business. A client advisory board is used for broader business issues. You want this group to help make your business better in a variety of areas. Besides talking about products your company offers you will want this group to help with ideas on new customer recruitment as well as service issues your business may face.
The goal of a client advisory board is to let them go wherever they and you believe the board can help your business. This group of people would likely be senior executives if your business sells to other businesses or your more sophisticated end users if your business sells to individuals.
A user group helps you understand how to make your products better. User groups traditionally have come out of the software business. Software vendors will put together a group of users to test and make suggestions about improving a particular product.
You will want to have a user group if your main goal is to improve products that you offer your customers. Members of this group would like be those who use your products on a daily basis.
If you have the time, energy, and resources it could be very helpful to have both. Most companies have clients and customers. Clients are the people who make the decision about whether to do business with you. Customers are the people who actually use or purchase your service. If you can have groups that learn from both groups of people you will have the ability to learn what the needs and wishes are of each group.
I’ve been involved in user groups as well customer advisory boards. I’ve also used both in different businesses that I’ve been involved in. I can tell you that the time and effort to learn from customers and clients has always been worth more than the cost in time and money.
If you haven’t done either, try one. If you have positive results then you can plan to expand the program. I bet you’ll see some incredible results.
One of the things that has come out of one of our own user groups is our client experience mind map. Click on the button below to see how we’ve used customer feedback to build a client experience that’s important to our customers.