Published on March 3rd, 2009 | by Contributing Author4
Want to Hear From Your Customers? Create An Advisory Board!
If you’ve got a customer pool you can talk to, first of all, do one thing, consider yourself lucky. Sometimes we only think about how we communicate TO them, instead of asking them for their opinions. We’ve talked a bit about how to do that with surveys, but what about actually visiting them or meeting with them face-to-face to find out how they like your products or services?
Do you have a product or service that might warrant getting some of your best customers into your establishment and start a round table to get their ideas? You might be surprised at what ideas come up from other companies they like and patron.
At VerticalResponse we’ve got a great group of customers we tap into to find out how they use our product and what they like or like to see changed. We’ll be increasing the size and use of that customer group soon because we think it’s important to actually visualize how they use our service and talk to them about their challenges. Chances are our customers have figured something out that we couldn’t have possibly imagined and it might even be a useful idea for all of our customers.
Here’s one way to start your CAB:
2. If you’ve got new ideas on the fly, send an email to them asking them about their opinions. They’ll tell you when it’s too much for them.
3. Invite them to meet face-to-face each quarter but be cognizant of their time. A larger group is always better, more ideas come of it and if some can’t make it you still have a meaningful discussion. If you can’t do it at your business site, select a local restaurant or establishment. Either way make sure you offer refreshments, lunch or dinner, it’s the polite thing to do and a very inexpensive focus group.
4. Come prepared with what you want to get out of the meeting, then be surprised at what you actually do get out of the meeting. If it’s a new product line, show them the product line and ask for their feedback. If it’s a partnership you want to do, talk to them about the features and benefits and ask them if this would benefit them.
5. Give a half hour at the end (or the beginning) for networking. People will leave when they have to, they shouldn’t be rushed out of the door. Introduce your customers to some of your employees, customers always like to know who is behind the scenes.
6. Give a gift! If you have schwag give it up! Everyone likes something for free, and if it has your logo on it even better!
7. Thank your customers profusely!
Your customers are visiting many websites and many businesses each day. You could really learn from their experience. Create your own Customer Advisory Board and make it work for you.
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