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Creating a Client Advisory Board for Your Business

Striving for exceptional client service? Well, client feedback is crucial.

Creating a client advisory board just may be the most powerful means for you to obtain client feedback in order to build a business that is personalized to your ideal clients’ needs and the ultimate client experience.

Establishing a client advisory board provides numerous benefits, including helping to ensure your marketing strategy is on track and promoting greater client retention.

Be sure to visit the Practice Management section to learn about more ways to grow your advisory practice.

What Is a Client Advisory Board?

A client advisory board is essentially a sounding board that provides you with advice straight from your clients in order to achieve your business goals and objectives. They are very different from other client events. Advisory boards are innovative and will help you uncover new and improved business opportunities.

To establish a client advisory board, you should identify 5-10 clients. A smaller group allows for more intimate and meaningful conversation. When client advisory groups are larger, it can become difficult to manage the conversations and the value of the discussions can be lost.

When identifying potential members, consider a mix of your top clients, existing clients, centers of influence and perhaps one or two prospects. You should also strive for a mix of men and women who fall within your ideal client niche.

When you invite them to become a member of your advisory board call them directly or meet with them in person. Explain why you chose them, what the goal of the board is and how important their feedback and opinions are to you. Be clear that this is a no obligation commitment and they are able to opt-out at any time.

How Often Should They Meet?

A client advisory board should meet at least once a year, but they could also meet semi-annually or even quarterly.

An agenda should always be prepared and sent in advance to the members. It is also ok to ask members to prepare in advance any “homework” assignments you want them to think about prior to the meeting.

Every meeting must have a goal. Your topics of discussion can range from customer service to the products you offer. What challenges is your firm facing?
Use this as an opportunity to uncover new ideas.

Here are some potential discussion questions to get you started:

  • What keeps your clients up at night?
  • What do your clients think makes you unique?
  • Why do they do business with you?
  • Are they aware of all of the services you provide, or do they just use you for one or two?
  • What triggers a client to refer you?

You can also gather feedback on your technology, your office setup, your website and marketing efforts. Uncover both what they like and what they don’t.

If you are not at a point yet to create a client advisory board, at the bare minimum you should have a client survey in place to gather client impressions and feedback on your service model and overall client experience. You can use the same questions and topics suggested above.

Where Should the Meetings Take Place?

You should consider hosting your client advisory board meetings at an offsite location, rather than your office.

Make your advisory board clients feel special. Host the meetings at a nice venue. It doesn’t have to be overly pricey, however, a luncheon is appropriate. It doesn’t have to be a formal dinner.

At the meeting, introduce each client or prospect to the rest of the board and explain to the group why you chose each member.

It is highly recommended that you consider using an outside consultant to facilitate the meeting and questions. You are much more likely to get honest feedback when it is not you asking the questions.

Since you will be in the room, be sure to be mindful of your reactions, posture and facial expressions. If any of the comments are negative in nature, do not react or become defensive. Your board members need to feel as though they can be open and honest in their discussions. This is important in the effort of building trust with you and among the members.

What Happens After the Meeting?

Be sure to scribe the meeting and share the minutes after the meeting with each member. Also, share the key findings with your entire client base. You can do this easily via your email newsletter.

Follow-up after the meeting is really important to show your board members that you are taking action. In addition, send them each a handwritten thank you note for participating. Send them updates as changes and actions are implemented.

Remember, the goal of your client advisory board meetings is not just to have a conversation. Your goal is to take the valuable feedback that you gain and implement the necessary changes to your business!

If meeting live more than once a year is too difficult for your advisory board members, you can consider hosting a conference call or a video conference as additional time to connect and share updates.

The Bottom Line

Research shows that financial advisors who use client advisory boards, as well as other forms of client feedback, and implement the feedback they receive, can gain 10-50% more growth than advisors who do not solicit client feedback.

A client advisory board will not only help you grow your business, it will help you get more referrals and build genuine client loyalty. What are you waiting for? The time is now to get started!

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