We are often asked what’s the ideal number for a customer advisory board.
The answer is simple: if you want to make executives feel they were treated, gather 10-20 of them, book the flights and take them to the most expensive hotels. Invest as many resources as possible in showing them your commitment. It works.
However, if you want real inputs on your product or your strategy, ask as many customers as possible. Let technology group for you similar statements, and make everyone feel they are part of your decision making process.
There are a few justified reasons to gather small CABs:
Interestingly, the reasons are all inter-related: engaging with strategic customers is relevant only when strategic advice is needed, and so the costs are justified.
Social platforms are challenging this model. Today, companies get advice from customers through various tools - from Ideascale and Uservoice to Mighty Networks and UsabilityHub. The ability to get quick inputs from many users has changed the landscape.
But whereas most online tools help companies get answers to tactical questions, advisory boards have a strong collaborative and inclusive approach. They make customers meet each other, make them feel important, and strengthen their commitment.
Today, when digital platforms enable us to manage an advisory board online, there is no real constraint on the size of the board. Social networks like Facebook make everyone feel unique, even though there are 1 billion users on the same platform.
The question is therefore not what is the optimal size of an advisory board, but how we can make sure its members are coming from diverse background and they have different points of view.
Once these two prerequisites are guaranteed, algorithms can help us ask the right questions, analyze the responses and respond to each answer in a personalized way.