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Product, Customer or User Advisory Board?

Thinking about establishing an advisory board?

Yoni Melamed
Yoni Melamed
November 6, 2019

Advisory boards can take different forms and have different names: Product Advisory Boards (PAB), Customer Advisory Boards (CAB), User Advisory Boards (UAB) and others. The idea of Employee Advisory Board (EAB) is less common, though no less appealing; your people know best how to address common challenges.

Whereas all have a similar rationale, they differ in several parameters. Here is a quick overview to get you started.

Similar rationale: engaging the customers

Advisory boards are there to help us engage directly with the customer, in a collaborative framework. Unlike traditional surveys, advisory boards are vibrant. Unlike an online forum, advisory boards are facilitated.

Their success is measured by two parameters: how much the members succeeded to save you money (by giving advice that prevented expensive mistakes) and how much revenue was generated (by up-sales and higher retention rates).

Interestingly, the two KPIs are strongly correlated: when customers feel they have had a real impact, they become more committed to your company. Such a commitment can be quickly transformed into better communication and higher sales.

Different goals, different audiences

Whereas the rationale is shared, the methods are different. CABs would usually be established by B2B companies and target their prominent customers. The board will be often be managed by the marketing department and include between 15 to 1,000 executives, depending on the company’s size.

However, CAB members are often not those who work directly with your product. This is where a PAB (Product Advisory Board) is called into action. We recommend PABs to include all players - product teams, success teams and most importantly, the users. This how you can align everyone, and learn from everyone.

Notably, PABs are focused almost entirely on product questions: improving features, designing new features, validating roadmaps, comparing alternatives and strategizing ahead. Whereas CABs will feature open-ended questions, PABs can present real designs and wireframes and ask for comments.

User Advisory Boards (UABs) are managed mostly online, and unlike CABs and PABs, they are applicable for both B2B and B2C companies. They can host up to 100k users, and focus on different themes, such as product, operations or strategy.

Practical implications

Considering the option to establish a CAB, PAB or a UAB?

First, ask yourself what is  your goal. Are you looking for real input? Or are you more interested in making a show? Do you want to engage real users? Or only executives?  Your answer will define the questions you’ll ask, the frequency of your engagement and the scope of your members. Asking the right questions, the right audience, in the right context is crucial to getting results.

It’s worth noting that you can also start on a smaller scale, perhaps with a pilot of 100-500 people, using our digital platform, and see how it goes. We are here to help!

Product, Customer or User Advisory Board? Yoni Melamed
Yoni is the VP Engagement at Insights.US