retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The New York Times has a story this morning about the importance of customer advisory boards, and that such groups - meeting regularly and formally - can create the best ideas for sustainable, growing businesses.

The story suggests four rules for creating such boards:

Make sure there is a curmudgeon in the group, because many boards suffer from what is called a "nice bias." A curmudgeon can help loosen tongues about what really needs to be fixed.

Members should only speak from their own points of view, as opposed to representing the view of "others." "Unless people say they will spend their own money on an idea, it’s probably a lousy idea," the story says.

Insure that members get a take-away for themselves … even if that is just a sense that their suggestions are being acted upon. Otherwise, they won;t see the board as worth their time.

Rotate members. Frequently. It keeps people from getting stale, though it is critical that at least one curmudgeon stays on the board at any given time.
KC's View:
Consumer advisory boards ought to be a requirement for every store manager … whether the store is a single-unit independent, or part of an enormous chain. And part of the way in which store managers are assessed and evaluated ought to be linked to how effective they are at assembling and utilizing such boards.