Leading an “Issues and Vision” Discussion with CAB Participants

Tips for Gaining a Lot of Customer Context in a Short Time

April 2, 2014

Want to kick off a Customer Advisory Board session the right way? We recommend starting with an Issues and Vision Discussion—a group round-robin interview—that surfaces customer issues, starts customers thinking about their success and the role your company plays in achieving that, and creates a bonding experience among the participants. The activities that follow will yield thoughtful discussions, creative insights, and help ensure a successful CAB meeting.


For more than 25 years, we’ve been leading group interviews with customers to gather their issues and concerns on a variety of topics. Our clients have told us that this technique is very useful to them in CAB sessions as well as other types of customer engagements. We are able to generate very high-quality customer information, full of rich context, around customers’ issues and requirements. Customers are also able to articulate and agree upon what they’d ideally like to experience in the future.

In this report, we describe the mechanics of facilitating this kind of discussion with a group of like-minded customers who have been recruited to participate in a customer engagement session.

Use this technique to:

  • Gather requirements and issues from any group of customers who share similar roles and concerns
  • Create a bonding experience for your customers who will recognize their own trials, tribulations, and successes in their fellow CAB members’ experiences


When Do You Use a Group Interview around Issues and Vision?

You can use this group interview technique any time you want to gather common issues quickly, to build consensus, and to build a shared mental model of current reality (today state) and vision (ideal state). We’ve been doing group interviews for more than 20 years. Group interviews allow you to gather a lot of information very quickly, while at the same time, seed strategic conversations.

Whenever you have a set of like-minded consumers or business customers assembled for any purpose, you should think about using this approach to stimulate discussion and dialog. When you run customer advisory board (CAB) sessions, or when you host user groups, run customer co-design sessions, conduct focus groups for market research, engage customers in usability testing, and/or visit with customers at their place of business or in your stores or branches, you can use this Issues and Vision discussion format to gather rich context and clear requirements. If you begin a CAB session with this technique, it sets the tone that your customers’ issues and their vision/requirements are front and center for this session.

This group discussion works well whether the topic at hand is improving how you serve customers, transforming how customers do their jobs, gaining customer input into new products and processes, or shortening time to close sales for existing products and services. Think of using this approach to kick off any customer-impacting project or initiative.

Ideally, Start a CAB Session with a Customer Issues and Vision Discussion

We call this particular form of group interview a customer Issues and Vision discussion because it consists of two parts: 1) Customers describe their current pain points and issues in the context of their own lives and/or businesses, 2) You then switch the discussion to get them to focus on their ideal experiences. If anything were possible, what would they be able to do and how would that feel? This is a way to open their minds to possibilities, use their imaginations to generate new ideas, and get their creative juices flowing as they share with you and with other customers where they would like to see your product/service/business roadmap head in the future.

Why This Kind of Discussion?

There are several reasons why it makes sense to use an Issues and Vision Discussion to kick off your CAB session. The reasons include......(more)



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