Three ways we’re changing our Customer Panel and why we need your feedback

3 September 2020

As SIB begins to redesign our Customer Panel, Jenny Smith outlines why we need feedback from our customers to better understand what will and won’t work about our new approach.

In 2017, Social Investment Business set up our first Customer Panel. For the last 3 years, we have been working with a dedicated, flexible and patient group of customers. They have put aside their own time to deliver feedback on SIB’s ideas and helped us to improve our ‘four Ds’: design, delivery, decision-making and direction. We have gained much from their insights on a wide range of topics, including SIB’s 2019-21 Strategy and Communications and Influence Strategy.

As we move forward, we want to continue to build on the success of our original panel. We have new ideas on how we could improve it, and, in turn, improve our relationships with customers. However, before we begin recruitment, we want to hear from our customers about whether these ideas will work for them.

Our panel previously had 10 members and met three times a year in person. Our redesign approach would be to have a larger panel of 20-25 members, with more frequent, paid digital interactions. Each member would be paid £100 each time they engage with us, and we anticipate on average they would have five engagements a year. There are three core areas of thinking to our redesign:

  1. Flexibility – Recognising the presence of unpredictable workloads in the social sector, and an increased shift to remote working, we do not want panellists to commit to a series of fixed, in-person meetings. Instead, we are suggesting a move to ad-hoc requests to discuss/feedback on SIB’s work. If a panellist is too busy with other commitments, they do not need to engage. Payment to panellists will be dependent on the number of interactions they have with SIB.
  2. Digital – The last few months of lockdown have demonstrated how effective digital platforms can be for convening groups of people. We think creating discussions and gathering feedback on an online platform will be less time consuming and will ensure greater geographical diversity of our panellists, with increased accessibility.
  3. Diversity – Building on our diversity work, we want to ensure greater diversity and inclusion in the recruitment and running of our new panel. The newly-published Rubicon Review has reinforced the need for a multiplicity of voices in our work, accounting for the intersection of class and race within the third sector more widely.

    We will be focusing on recruiting panellists from a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, and roles within the sector. We would like to be actively challenged by individuals who can bring different perspectives on our work. We want to work with front-line workers delivering vital support services, new graduates in entry-level roles, bid writers, CEOs and anyone who is enthused about improving the work we are doing.

Our Customer Panel provides us with an opportunity to better our support for the communities we serve. We have created a short survey to hear what you think about our ideas: would online work for you? Is £100 per interaction enough pay? How often would you like to be contacted? We’d appreciate it if you could spare a few minutes to share your thoughts.

Photo by Celpax on Unsplash

Jenny Smith


Jenny joined SIB in August 2019, and works on the Learning & Influence Team on our qualitative research outputs. Prior to joining us, Jenny worked as a Researcher at nfpSynergy, and completed her PhD in Philosophy, Geography at Newcastle University - where she worked as a Seminar Leader and Tutor and also as a Support Worker (collaborative with her PhD) with Newcastle's West End Refugee Service.

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The Social Investment Business is the trading name for the Social Investment Business Foundation, Registered Company No. 05777484 (England), Registered Charity No. 1117185 (England & Wales), The Social Investment Business Limited, Registered in England No. 06490609, VAT No. 927456693, Futurebuilders-England Limited, Registered in England No. 05066676 and Forward Enterprise FM Ltd, Registered in England No.11238102. Registered Office: CAN Mezzanine, Borough, 7-14 Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YR.

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