insi-ded: Customer horror stories

2 Min Read

Customer horror stories: DOA – The Customer Advisory Board that wasn’t

Feeling inSi-DED? Excellent. Today’s story comes from 2021 Top 100 Customer Success Strategist, Dana Alvarenga. If you want to know how NOT to launch a Customer Advisory Board, read on. 

If you want to submit your own CS or community horror story, do so here. (You can be completely anonymous!)

In my role as a Customer Success Advocacy and Education Manager I was tasked with creating, planning, and launching a Customer Advisory Board for six different product lines in one organization.

The board said, “build a Customer Advisory Board.”

That was the only direction.

We didn’t do the homework of asking customers if they wanted to participate in this. 

We didn’t have a defined give-to-get strategy.

What did we do instead? We met in a room, just internal employees, and created the cadence, agenda, and invitee list. Customers were never consulted. 

What happened next? A product with thousands of users and hundreds of Enterprise level customers had three people attend the first CAB meeting.

Plus, it was a virtual meeting and nothing notable or fancy besides free tickets to the annual conference.

So what did we do wrong?

  • Mistake #1 – We set up our CAB with zero input from customers.
  • Mistake #2 –  We didn’t define what was in it for the key stakeholder, the customer.
  • Mistake #3 – No executives were present during the virtual CAB meetings, only myself, the Product Marketing Managers, and Product Managers.

No program is successful without customer buy-in and support from C-level. (Painful) lesson learned on what not to do when launching a CAB.

Want more horror? If you think you can handle it, head over to