Customer or Citizen Advisory Panels
A Customer or Citizen Advisory Panel (CAP) is a group of customers or the general public who are convened on a regular basis to feed into an organisation’s thinking on their priorities, business plans, service or policy developments or strategic direction. It works like this:
Adapted from the Customer Advisory Board approach (mainly developed with customers in the US technology sector) the approach provides a parallel forum of ‘real’ customers or citizens to work alongside and feed directly into an organisation’s Board or management team. Unlike more standard customer engagement a CAP allows for a continuous, ongoing two-way dialogue. This engenders trust on both sides and allows consumers to input into complex issues and ongoing debates within your organisation.
The size of the panel (usually between 12 and 20 people); the recruitment process; the format and regularity of the sessions are all dependent on organisational needs. In between the face to face sessions Panel members can feed in their thoughts and their questions via email or on the Panel’s private online discussion board.
Here are some recent examples:
Portsmouth Water’s Customer Advisory Panel
As water companies develop future plans, it is vitally important that they understand customers’ views on the key trade-offs and difficult decisions they need to make. We recruited and convened a Customer Advisory Panel (CAP), designed to feed customers’ views into plans for local supply of water and to establish priorities for the company’s future strategy. The CAP was created as a mechanism for valuable two-way dialogue with an increasingly informed set of customers. It provided an opportunity to share the key issues facing Portsmouth Water and to encourage customers to offer their unique perspective on the company’s most pressing concerns.
The Food Standards Agency’s Regulating Our Future (ROF) Panel
On behalf of the FSA we recruited the ROF Panel, a small group of consumers from around the UK, providing the FSA with the consumer perspective on different elements of the Regulating Our Future (ROF) programme of work. Depending on the discussion areas, the community met up for face-to-face sessions and /or took part in online activities to feed back their views. Over time, the panel members was able to build up an understanding of a complex area of regulation and was able to provide the informed citizen view on different topics.