Thursday, 28 July 2011

Creating a client advisory council

While we’re best know as a Houston IT consulting company, we’re also heavily involved in creating a more flexible workplace for our clients through cloud computing implementation.

The concept of creating a more flexible workplace environment was always a key underpinning of our company. Recently, however, we realized an increase in client interest through our client advisory board.

A client advisory board is a panel to give your key clientele and shareholders the opportunity to meet with other influential clients to influence new solutions and the overall direction of your organization.

While it’s tempting to only invite your “cheerleader clients”, the best way for true advancement is to also invite those clients who vocalize their concerns. Firstly, if all you get are pats on the back, you’ll never know when/how to improve. Secondly, this gives your clients a first-hand account of how you address problems (because issues do inevitably arise no matter what industry you’re in). Lastly, it’s beneficial for them to see other clients who are, indeed, satisfied with you. (Social proof is big part of the influential process.)

We typically host the event in an informal setting, such as a private room in a restaurant, where clients are comfortable to express the opinions.  For this reason, we also limit the participants to 12-15 clients. Any more than this, and people start to feel uneasy about expressing themselves.

The agenda typically consists of a review of the previous year, the most recent developments, and an overview of what we’re planning for the future (much of what has been suggested by clients in the previous year). The remainder of the event is focused on Q/A and eliciting client response.  We’ve also recently included a workshop topic (such as disaster preparedness) to add to the value of the event.

Author: Yehuda Cagen is the Director of Client Services for Xvand Technology Corporation, provider of IsUtility®, a pioneer of utility and cloud computing computer services for Houston’s small and midsized businesses, backed by nearly two decades of research and proven client implementation.