Among The DiJulius Group’s consulting clients is StandardAero, one of the world’s largest independent maintenance, repair, and overhaul providers for business aviation, commercial aviation, military, and industrial power customers. Like a growing number of organizations, it has a Customer Advisory Board (CAB). I had the good fortune of recently speaking at StandardAero’s annual CAB Meeting in Reno, Nevada. A Customer Advisory Board is a representative group of customers formed by an organization to gather feedback, insights, and guidance directly from its most valuable and strategic customers. CABs help companies make better business decisions, foster deeper relationships with key customers, and align product and service offerings with actual customer needs. Do you have a Customer Advisory Board for your company?
Elevated Customer Experience Starts with Consulting Your Clients
My presentation was to serve two primary objectives; first I did a keynote, which was a thank-you gift from Standard Aero to their CAB members. Secondly, I was also there to present on how we were helping StandardAero to raise their customer experience. This second part was key. Think about it. How can you improve your customer experience without consulting with your clients first? We shared all the things StandardAero is planning on implementing to improve the consistency of their experience and reduce any service defects from happening at each touch point along their client experience journey.
Now, what really surprised me was the customer feedback the company got from its CAB members. It wasn’t “we want it faster, better, and cheaper” like you might expect when asking customers how you can serve them better. If you didn’t know, you would have thought everyone in the room worked for StandardAero versus being their customers. The CAB members were realistic about what they wanted and gave an honest critique; they shared valuable, qualitative feedback on how StandardAero could see things from a customer perspective and develop a forward-thinking plan for making the experience even better than it already was. Not one person brought up wanting lower prices. The coolest part was that StandardAero’s CAB members acted like brand ambassadors.
CABs: Beyond Traditional Advisory Boards and Focus Groups
While many franchisor organizations have Franchisee Advisory Boards, which typically make up a handful of their franchisees, I haven’t heard of many organizations that have a Customer Advisory Board. I was so impressed by StandardAero’s CAB that I immediately came back and decided I wanted to do the same for my organizations. A CAB is totally different than a focus group of your top customers and more multifaceted than your traditional board meetings; on a regular basis, Customer Advisory Boards can offer previously unavailable market intelligence on your products or services. Their customer insights can also help your company executives with strategic direction on everything from pain points to product development to best marketing practices, and even help tweak your service vision statement. These valuable customers are likely to be more informed about market trends and can greatly enhance a company’s decision-making process. StandardAero’s executive team meets quarterly with their CAB members; three times virtually, and once at the annual Customer Advisory Board meeting in-person event.
*Related – Measuring Your Customer’s Experience
A Beneficial Voice Regarding Customer Experience
Overall, a Customer Advisory Board can be a valuable asset for a company, providing essential insight, strengthening customer relations, and driving innovation. Business leaders have much to gain from deeper engagement with such high-impact customers. Could your organization benefit from creating a CAB?
Bad Customer Experience Example:
If It IS Your Fault, NEVER Make It Your Customer’s Problem to Solve
The following email image was sent to me by one of our clients. They reached out to their vendor to see why their order was delayed with no notice and why the shipping charges were $10k more than they originally quoted them
While their vendor is admitting they have an inventory problem, their solution is for the customer to increase their budget and make even larger orders:
Talk about an example of a bad customer experience. The vendor openly shares that at their company they “typically push (their) clients”. In this case, not only are they telling an already frustrated, understocked customer to spend more in advance to prevent the problem going forward, but this vendor also implies that if the customer does not do so, THEY are the problem.
The sad thing is, this company’s customer representatives don’t see anything wrong with continuing such customer interactions with their business over time, offering the opposite of world-class customer service. They will likely keep expecting great feedback from customers, then wonder why their customer retention numbers drop and prospective customers take their business elsewhere.
*Related – How Leaders Can Improve the Customer Journey
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2024 CXO Academy Class kicks off in January
The CXO (Chief eXperience Officer) has been one of the fastest growing positions in corporate America over the last decade. The Customer Xperience Executive Academy (CXEA) is like a master’s degree in Customer Experience! The Customer Experience Executive Academy course is a 12-month part-time rigorous program. Training will occur in the classroom, in businesses, and virtually through scheduled calls and webinars. The CXE student is required to attend quarterly intensive training sessions and participate in virtual meetings.