I have a client who is in the process of putting together a customer advisory board. I believe this is the best way to develop services and products that are meaningful to the people we serve.
The road to having the owners of the company put together the advisory board has been an interesting journey.
Several years ago I mentioned that they should consider having a client event where they bring in an outside speaker and provide an educational opportunity for their clients and friends of the company. When I made this recommendation you would have thought this company had horrible customer relations.
The owners were scared of letting their customers meet each other. They were afraid their customers would get together and find ways to be unhappy with their company. The owners felt that there could be no good from a program like this and we let the idea of a customer event die, at least for the time being.
A few years later I brought up the subject after they had done a survey that showed their customers loved them. This time the owners decided they would be willing to try a customer appreciation event and bring in an outside speaker.
Their customers loved meeting each other. They actual results were completely different than the owners of the company expected. Instead of their customers finding fault with their company their customers found all the things they loved about the company and shared this information with each other.
We need to realize that people don’t want to speak ill of our companies and when possible they love to recommend what they like to others. When our customers have the opportunity to meet with others who are using the service they get to talk about all of the good things the company does.
Instead of having a negative reinforcement activity the customers reinforced how much they loved doing business with this company. When you provide your customers with an opportunity to talk with each other you are giving them an opportunity to reinforce their decision about doing business with you. When you provide your customers with good service they have good feelings towards you and your company. It’s only natural they share this information with others.
We’ve now moved past getting customers introduced to each other and are in the process of putting together a customer advisory board. This group will help shape the offerings this company provides and the way service is provided.
Management has gone from distrusting their customers to realizing that their best customers can provide the best advice for making the customer experience with this company better. What are your thoughts about the customers you work with? Are you willing to let them help make your company better?
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