At VEERUM, our goal has always been to ingrain client consideration into our company processes and programs. From our dedicated solutions team of geospatial experts and digital transformation consultants to our agile product roadmap, our clients are always top of mind. As part of our client advocacy program we host quarterly workshops with our client advocacy group to get feedback on pain points, share innovative product developments, and work together to find solutions to current industry challenges.
We've been running client advocacy group workshops for the past year and want to share our learnings from the journey so far. In this post, we’ll discuss the benefits of client advocacy groups and 5 best practices that can help you get the most from your own client advocacy groups.
What is a client advocacy group?
First, let’s define client advocacy. Client advocacy is a “specialized form of customer service in which companies focus on what is best for the customer.” It is supported and maintained by client-focused internal processes, programs, and procedures, such as a client advocacy group. A client advocacy group is a group of existing clients who are brought together on a regular basis to share their experience with the product, provide feedback to inform the product roadmap, and learn from other power users. It is also an opportunity to contribute insights into industry use cases, network with industry experts, and build connections for further learning and problem solving.
Why do you need a client advocacy group?
Sounding board for new ideas
A client advocacy group is a direct and powerful link to client input. Client advocacy groups can provide specific feedback and industry use cases for new product features or product roadmap. For example, the VEERUM product team wants to know exactly how clients use specific product features in their daily work, compared to how we think they should use our product. In our last client advocacy group, we shared a new self-serve product ideation with our clients that we believed would help with their administrative tasks. After speaking with them, we discovered they would prefer a more tailored approach to meet their organization’s needs. We are now using their input to build a product that works with their existing workflows for seamless adoption.
Build a learning product community
“The client advocacy group is an incredibly valuable opportunity for our clients to come together to network, learn from one another to solve processes, make workflows smoother, and build the VEERUM learning community,” says Aabid Mohamed, Client Experience Lead at VEERUM. Many of our client advocacy group members are learning how other VEERUM users are using our application, and will often collaborate after the workshop to learn more about their unique problems and solutions.
5 tips for a successful client advocacy group
1. Ensure a variety of users
To get the most out of the workshop, ensure that the participants reflect the diversity of your client base. For example, it’s important to have both long-term clients who have been with the company for years, but also invite clients who are newer and have a fresh perspective on the solution. Include organizations of all sizes, from large enterprise corporations to smaller sized brands across a variety of industries.
2. Send a qualitative survey beforehand
Sending a survey before the workshop is a great way to prepare your participants for an engaging discussion and give them an opportunity to contribute to the agenda. It’s an effective way to break the ice during the discussion period and make the conversation much more efficient.
3. Mutually beneficial agenda, client-driven content
The purpose of an agenda should be to provide structure for the sessions and accomplish your intended client advocacy goals, but not to make the session feel rigid. Here is a typical VEERUM agenda:
Action Items completed
New product ideation
Thank you and Wrap Up
4. Commitment to active listening
We focus on ensuring our clients feel heard and comfortable enough to share their pain, objectives, and ideas in their own words. It’s important to make sure you’ve allotted adequate time in the agenda for discussion, and don’t be afraid to gently prompt participants to expand further on a topic or ask specific questions after they provide feedback. Invite a variety of participants from your organization who work in different areas of the business to bring multiple points of view to the discussion.
5. Make a post client advocacy group action plan
To make the most of the feedback you’ve received from your clients, you need an effective feedback management process. Ensure that any concerns brought up during the workshop are prioritized and addressed. It is also important that the dialogue doesn’t end after the workshop. Continue the discussion with opportunities for connection, conversation, and post-workshop feedback. Decide on the date of the next client advocacy group before the workshop and send out an invitation shortly after.
With deliberate planning, a client advocacy group can be a wonderful opportunity for your user base to come together and share experiences, ideas, workflow processes, and improvements. It is a direct source of feedback for your organization and promotes a solid foundation for a client-focused culture.
Have you hosted a client advocacy group before? What made it successful? Let us know in the comments below.