How to set up a Customer Influencer Council

Once you have a successful B2B product with customer numbers growing and your organisation scaling up, there will be a few high profile customers that stick out. These are standard-setting lighthouse companies in their industry that drive additional sales in their tailwind, early adopters in new market segments or simply XXL accounts driving a significant share of your revenue. These high profile customers are the ones you want to keep happy and engaged. Typically, they receive special caretaking and are subject to engagement initiatives.

Such initiatives are known by several names, each with slightly different focus and flavour:

  • Customer Influencer Council
  • Customer Influencer Group
  • User Group
  • Co-Innovation Initiative
  • Co-Innovation Group
  • Strategic Alliance

Common to all of them is that they comprise of a known participants. Participants typically have a vendor-customer relation for a business critical supply or service, with a high demand for innovation and stability. Members may be competitors to other members in their field of business. 

Some initiatives engage with a rather large number of customers in a 'democratic' way: numbers, issues and priorities are exchanged openly, transparency is highly valued.

Other initiatives may be of rather private nature, driving co-innovation while protecting stakeholders' intellectual property.

Common to all such user groups, influencer councils and engagement initiatives is the information exchange on new product features and the alignment of future priorities. Tool support is of advantage to avoid endless manual communication work. Repetitive tasks like group management, voting and rollout can be supported by software.

Are you looking for a tool to run your user group or customer influencer council?

Productific will soon support user groups. For news and updates please check our feature listing for user group management

Tips for running an open user group

  • Make participation easy
  • Resist the temptation of hard selling
  • Keep transparency up
  • Appreciate any feedback
  • Actively moderate toxic members, understand their reasoning
  • Under-promise and over deliver, don't over-promise and under-deliver

Tips for running a private customer engagement initiative

  • It can make sense to split initiatives by customer industry
  • Nurture the engagement for the long term
  • Stick to your strategy, resist being pulled off track by large deals