What to do Now with Your Customer Advisory Committee During the Pandemic

Many companies are unsure what role the customer advisory board should play in the Coronavirus crisis.

Others cancel or delay engagements scheduled for spring and early summer. Some who were interested in launching a CAB Program are delaying their plans until the crisis is over (however long it may take).

Although such actions initially may seem logical to you, I suggest a different approach: now is the ideal time for your CAB to take a proactive leadership role in this ongoing crisis.

You should take five steps now to prepare your Customer Advisory Board for the Coronavirus pandemic.

1. Start your program

You can start a CAB Program now if you haven’t done so yet or if you have been considering it but have put off your plans.

It is a rare opportunity (and a great one) to plan and establish a solid program.

  • Determine program goals and develop a strong CAB charter
  • Prioritize and evaluate customers for recruitment to the CAB
  • Engage them virtually in order to discover their most pressing challenges and issues that they would like to discuss with their colleagues during future engagements

My firm is also approached by companies who want to start a CAB but are eager to host the first meeting just a few weeks after starting. This approach often results in a rushed and inferior program, where crucial strategic planning is hurried while meeting logistics are given priority.

This slowdown in business is a great opportunity to spend time establishing a solid CAB program foundation, which will help you achieve maximum success.

2. Show your leadership

Your customers may be seeking advice on how to respond and adapt, as well as learning from others how they are dealing with the pandemic. They might also want to connect (and maybe commiserate) with other colleagues who have been affected by the crisis.

The pandemic is an excellent opportunity for your business to show proactive leadership. By gathering executive colleagues, you can determine pragmatic solutions to the current business obstacles.

Leading companies are using CABs to communicate with their clients and gauge their performance during the crisis. They also share how their products and services might be changed during business reductions.

3. Virtual technologies

Virtual meetings are a common way to stay in touch with your CAB members. You can use the same technologies to hold a powerful virtual meeting for your CAB members.

Some companies are simply moving their in-person meetings to the web or already holding them as part of regular communication timelines. You’ll need to plan, engage participants, and communicate the outcomes of such calls to your CAB members.

4. Plan in-person meetings

Estimates as to when the Coronavirus pandemic will end tend to change and vary. By the fall of 2020, we may all be back to work and face-to-face meetings.

There may be a rush to book meeting rooms and hotels when the “all clear” finally comes. Get ahead of the crowd and start planning your fall meetings now. What is the best city for your members to meet? What properties and activities are ideal for them to engage in? Now is the time to take advantage of reduced prices and increased availability.

5. Prepare yourself for the “new normal”

Your business may need to consult with your best customers about your strategies and operations, which could have changed due to the pandemic.

As businesses are under pressure to get back to normal operations as soon as possible, they can prepare by engaging their customers, making changes and improvements, finding innovative solutions and possibly previously unknown ones, and discovering new business opportunities. This will help them not only get back to business but also flourish in the post-Coronavirus period.

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