Booking a Customer Advisory Council

Greetings people.  This is part of a small series on how our company held a Customer Advisory Council.  “Council” sounds way cooler than “Board”, so that’s what we rolled with.

If you missed the reason WHY we  convened the council, you can read the first post here.

After deciding to hold the event, we had to bring it all together.  The first step – planting the seed.  During product roadmap calls in February, 6 months before the event even took place, we proposed the idea to our customers.  Actually, we shifted our language from proposing it, to “we’re doing this…you want in?”.  That worked better.

planttheseed

Once we had confirmed a great group representing 5 customers, choosing the date was a simple matter of proposing 4-5 times and getting the responses back.  I used email the first time, and have used Doodle for follow up meetings to simplify the process.

We then worked with a local travel agency to coordinate the flight details.  That made our lives easier, and made it simple for us to cover the airfare for our customers.

As we approached the event, 2 weeks out we sent a reminder with a proposed agenda.  To create that agenda, I kept a running list of questions we wanted to ask our customers during that 6 month lead time.  Have an idea? Write it down, save it for later.  With a list of 30-40 questions ready, we were able to bucket them, eliminate topics, and add to it.  That helped.

We followed that up 1 week later with a revised agenda.  Two days before the event we shared the polished agenda, a feature list to review, and a request to have their teams review and provide feedback on it.  Next time – we’ll get that polished list out a least a week early.  Their teams wanted more time to marinate on it.  Providing guidance on the topics and features in advance created more thoughtful discussion during the council, instead of requiring spur-of-the-moment thinking.

In the next post I’ll drill into the how we structured the logistics of the meeting days, which made HUGE difference in the meetings efficiency and the feedback we received.

 

 

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