Guest Editorial: Unleashing the Power of Customer Advisory Boards Combined With a Customer Value-Based Strategy

Companies that can adapt, innovate, and stay ahead of the curve not only survive, but thrive. To achieve this, a fresh approach to innovation is required: one that harnesses the collective wisdom of customer advisory boards and prioritizes a strategy based on customer value.

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In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, innovation has become the key to success. Companies that can adapt, innovate, and stay ahead of the curve not only survive, but thrive. To achieve this, a fresh approach to innovation is required: one that harnesses the collective wisdom of customer advisory boards and prioritizes a strategy based on customer value. In this article, we delve into the value of co‑creating innovation through these two critical elements.

The Power of Customer Advisory Boards

Customer advisory boards are invaluable assets for any forward‑thinking, innovative organization. They are not just a forum for feedback, but a mechanism for co-creating value and fostering innovation. They serve as a strategic tool for an organization to gain valuable insight, enhance customer relationships, and drive innovation. The facilitated collaboration leads to improved products, market-driven innovation, stronger customer relationships, and market success. The diverse backgrounds and expertise of the customers who make up an advisory board provide a holistic perspective that internal teams might lack. Here’s how advisory boards contribute to innovation.

Unbiased Insights and Feedback. Customer advisory board members bring fresh eyes to a company’s products and challenges and provide a structured platform for customers to voice their opinions, share experiences, and offer feedback on products and services as well as the overall customer journey. They offer impartial insights and constructive criticism, allowing for a more accurate assessment of innovation efforts.

Market Validation. These boards typically comprise individuals with deep industry knowledge. Their expertise helps identify emerging trends and opportunities, ensuring that innovation efforts are aligned with industry advancements and customer expectations; thus, avoiding costly misinnovation from misalignment with the market. This ensures that when a product is developed, there is market demand for the product.

Enhanced Customer Relationships. Customer advisory boards can open doors to new partnerships, collaborations, and resources. They connect organizations to a broader ecosystem, fostering innovation through collaboration.

Co-Creation of Solutions. Customer advisory boards enable collaborative problem solving and solutions. Customers, as experts in their fields, actively participate in ideation and development of new products and features to solve their challenges and address future business requirements. This co‑creation ensures solutions meet specific customer needs driven by current challenges. A collective voice of the board ensures solutions and products are not too customized for a specific customer but fit the needs of the broader market experiencing the same challenges.

A Customer Value-Based Strategy

Innovation should ultimately benefit your customers. A customer value-based strategy is the key to ensuring that your innovations meet customer needs and provide expected value to customers. Here’s how to align your innovation efforts with customer value.

Customer Feedback. Regularly solicit feedback from your customers. Understand their challenges, desires, and expectations. Understand what provides the most value to them and focus innovation on this. This feedback loop is essential for tailoring your innovations to their needs and delivering expected value. Failure to deliver on value makes long-term relationships and retention much harder, if not impossible.

Agile Development. Adopt agile methodologies to respond swiftly to changing market and customer needs. An iterative approach to innovation ensures that products and services remain relevant.

Data-Driven Decisions. Leverage data analytics to gain deeper insights into market and customer behavior and preferences. Data-driven decision‑making enhances the precision of your innovation strategy.

Measure and Adjust. Customer conversations should be focused on the value determined by the customer for each product. Operations should focus execution to ensure that value, as defined by the customer, is being delivered. There should be repeated measurements of value from customers to understand fluctuations in customers’ perspectives of value delivered.

Synergizing Advisory Boards With a Client Value-Based Strategy

The real magic happens when you combine the insights of customer advisory boards with a customer value-based strategy. Here’s how they complement each other.

Customer Advisory Board Feedback Shapes Strategy. Advisory boards provide guidance on desired products or features to solve challenges or create efficiencies. These can then be translated into your strategic plan ensuring your strategy is based on solutions that drive value to customers. This ensures future products developed and delivered are in line with market desires and deliver expected customer value.

Testing Ground for Ideas. Advisory boards can serve as an ideal testing ground for new concepts and products. Their input ensures that innovations are well received by customers before broader implementation.

Continuous Improvement. While advisory boards help in identifying the emerging trends and market shifts that require innovation and development, there is still a need for continuous feedback and innovation improvements along with modifying strategy to maintain alignment with changing customer needs and views of value.

In conclusion, co-creating innovation through customer advisory boards and a client value-based strategy is a powerful formula for staying competitive in today’s dynamic business environment. By harnessing external expertise and putting clients at the center of your innovation efforts, your organization can drive meaningful and sustainable growth while staying ahead of the curve. Embrace this approach, and you’ll not only innovate, but thrive in the ever‑evolving marketplace.

With over 25 years of oil and gas leadership experience in transformation, strategy, and marketing, Tracy Gray is the director of marketing and strategy and a member of the executive team at Intelligent Wellhead Systems. Previously, she served in several strategic planning and marketing roles. Most recently, Gray was global senior director of strategy and retention for Sodexo’s energy and resources division. Prior to that, she worked as global manager for strategic initiatives and marketing for Halliburton’s consulting and project management service line, and as global process and quality lead for Shell Information Technology International. She holds a master’s degree in business administration in management, computing, and systems, from Houston Christian University and a bachelor’s degree in business administration in marketing and management from Texas A&M University. She has also completed the Harvard Business School’s Sustainable Business Strategy Certification Program and holds Project Management Professional and Six Sigma certifications.