Decoding the QBR myth-Interview with Mary Poppen

Many CX professionals across the globe still don’t understand the criticality of Quarterly Business review. This is why we, at CustomerSuccessBox, thought of interviewing CS leaders to understand their perspective of QBR. We hope to give a fresh perspective regarding the QBR process which will take your customer success efforts to the next level. The second interview in the series is with Mary Poppen.

Mary Poppen

Mary Poppen is the Chief Strategist and Customer Officer, at Involve.ai. Customer Success & Experience Influencer, Executive, Speaker, Author, Consultant, Coach, and Board Advisor who is passionate about sharing best practices and lessons learned to help others succeed!

Why is Quarterly Business Review important? How does it help your customers?

Mary: The QBR/EBR (aka Partnership Review or Value Review) is an important opportunity for you and your customer to discuss the partnership from a strategic perspective. Ideally, the Executive Sponsor is present as well as the key stakeholders to discuss expectations, objectives, priorities, and ideal business outcomes. It is also an opportunity to highlight the success and value to date from your product and/or service along with planning the next steps on the journey to continue to evolve and transform the value of the partnership. The entire meeting should be conducted through the customer’s lens, not through yours.

Have you seen any impact on internal teams due to the QBR/EBR?

Mary: Live customer conversations contain rich information around ease of doing business, the value of products and/or services, and differentiation from the competition. All of the information obtained should be shared with all functions to help in the prioritization of delivering customer value. Product, Sales, Marketing, CS, Engineering all benefit from customer feedback.

How do you prep a team? As I know, building that process takes a lot. If you can share your experience & tips with young managers, that would be great!

Mary: Enablement is a key to success. Providing a framework for the QBR/EBR, templates, and other resources will help drive consistency and quality as well as efficiency. In addition, simulation/practice with teammates is a great way to build confidence in delivering these meetings.

Can you point us towards the most important learnings?

Mary: The greatest learning is not to force the QBR as a check-the-box meeting. It must add value and focus on the customer’s specific needs. I prefer Partnership Review to other names as timing for conducting the meeting can vary and the overall partnership should be the focus.

How do you measure success? It gets tricky to quantify the success of QBR, so would love to know how you go about that?

Mary: Tracking that QBRs/EBRs happen is important to ensure the conversations are taking place. However, the outcomes from these meetings are the most important to measure. Establishing a playbook for follow-up and tracking customer satisfaction post-QBR/EBR is important to make sure the partnership is on track.

Tell us a major win which you had because of QBR/EBR

Mary: Accelerated adoption of new features due to building awareness of impact to customer’s business results. Campaigns to educate on new features are helpful, but a CSM who can speak to the specific value for a particular customer has the greatest impact on product adoption because the use case is personalized to that customer.

How do you implement QBR/EBR as a success strategy?

Mary: Roles and responsibilities for each person involved in the QBR/EBR should be clear as well as timing that optimizes impact for you and the customer. For example, quarterly may be the right timing, but maybe not based on the other activity and interactions going on with the customer. The QBR/EBR shouldn’t be a check-the-box meeting or forced. If content can be covered in other scheduled meetings/activities with key stakeholders, then holding another meeting just because it’s expected is not the best use of your or your customer’s time.

Did you feel anytime that QBR/EBR is not only for your internal adoption of the tool, but it also helped customers? Can you share any related incidents?

Mary: The QBR/EBR should be focused on customer value. Internal outcomes will be attained as a result of focusing on how to help the customer accomplish their business outcomes.

What are the prerequisites for a QBR? Do you prepare a PPT or a document of any kind and send it across to your customer beforehand?

 Mary: The internal Account Team (CSM, RM, Consultants) provides input on content and the CSM organizes and coordinates the agenda and facilitates the meeting. Focus is a brief look back with the majority of time focused on future progress and next steps. Follow up on answers and action from the QBR/EBR is critical to the ongoing success of the partnership.

Swagata is a growth marketer at CustomerSuccessBox. Advocate for great customer experience. She is an avid traveler and when she is not working always on the lookout for new places to explore.