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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Customer Advisory Board

Last time, Fire Enterprises, Inc. (FEI) President Org and Marka the marketer discussed how to use customer surveys to begin “creating an endless feedback loop” with customers. This week, the topic is getting customer feedback via a “Customer Advisory Board.” Remember, fire = print.

The evening grew cool as the sun dipped behind Mount Olympus. Marka and Org, cool and wrinkled after a long day in the pool, toweled off and slumped into deck chairs. Numo and Zoot had stopped by and were scooping up pools of Olympian nectar.

“Glad you two could join us,” Org said jovially. “Now Marka, how else can we get feedback from customers to ensure they stay happy?”

“Not only should our most valued customers feel their voices are beings heard, they should be formally invited into our business decision-making process,” Marka said. “Enter the new FEI ‘Customer Advisory Board.’ ”

“Hmm,” Org said. “Like a board of directors?”

“Sort of,” Marka responded. “This board will be made up of six to a dozen key leaders of companies that use a wide range of FEI products—Matches, FireClassic, RapidFire, etc. Two or three times a year, we’ll invite all members together for a board meeting at a nice offsite location—like Calypso’s Island—and ask probing questions about how we can continuously improve the complete FEI customer experience.”

“I’m not sure I like the idea of giving all this attention to just a few customers,” Zoot said.

“It doesn’t sound cost-effective,” Numo added. “All those fancy dinners.”

“You two must’ve drunk too much grog before you came here,” Marka replied. “The customer advisory board will be comprised of our most strategically important customers. Collectively, they’ll provide valuable customer feedback and insight. If we listen...truly listen...we’ll create a continuous-feedback loop that will help us shape our business for long-term success.”

“What sort of feedback will they provide?” Org asked.

“Let’s see,” Marka said. She started listing on her fingers:

  • Feedback about our current products and services.
  • Market gap analysis for future FEI offerings.
  • Competitive insight on FlintStone, Pyro and others.
  • Straight talk about our service and the FEI customer experience.
  • Advice on winning over prospects with marquee customer potential.
  • A “canary in the Cyclops cave” for emerging customer needs and market opportunities.

“Clearly, an unbiased customer perspective is worth the price of a few dinners. Don’t you think, Numo?” she concluded.

“I’m a convert,” Numo agreed. “I see the value.”

“Should we follow through on all their suggestions?” Zoot asked.

“Only the ones that make sense. It’s our business, not theirs,” Marka said. “However, if we make no changes, our loyal advisory board will notice and feel unappreciated. Org...I thought you were convinced. You’re shaking your head?”

“I am convinced,” Org said. “I just have all this water in my ear.”

Fuel for Your Business’s Fire:

NFI Forms a Customer Advisory Board

With a long-history of customer success, the last thing NFI wanted was to get complacent. As the economy awakened from recession, NFI’s customer base had been rethinking its supply chain options. NFI knew its continued success would be tied to a solid understanding of its customers’ evolving supply chain needs. But how could NFI best tap into this vast customer knowledge base? By forming a Customer Advisory Board. (Download the NFI case study PDF.)

Next week: Marka, Zoot, Org and Numo head back to the office to discuss the last part of the “Customer Nurture Program.”


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