Effective QBR

Decoding the QBR myth- Interview with Sue Nabeth Moore

Many CX professionals across the globe don’t understand the criticality of business reviews. 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.

Sue Nabeth Moore is Co-Founder of Success Chain and also among the Top 50 Customer Success Influencer 2021. Success Chain is an ongoing training and enablement program to help suppliers (CS teams) and customers (transformation teams) to collaborate in unison to drive win-win outcomes. She’s also the founder of Success Track Enterprise which helps companies define, refine, expand and scale their CS organizations through advisory services.

Why is QBR/EBR important? How does it help your customers?

Sue:  A business review (whatever it’s called) should be the opportunity for vendors to focus on helping their customers move the needle forward to measure business gains, e.g. productivity, efficiency, cost savings, revenue/profit increase etc.

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

Sue: A business review is also an important opportunity for the measurement of mutual success between vendors and customers. Whilst vendors help customers measure business gains, the business review also provides a great opportunity for vendors to learn from their customers: e.g. blockers to immerse the product in the business environment, new business use cases, new user/stakeholder populations, new business process insights, change management challenges, etc. These insights provide immense opportunities for customer success teams and all internal teams to fine-tune the product, associated services, content, and communication across the entire customer journey (from initial discovery until repeated renewals).

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!

Sue:  1) Ensure that everyone understands why QBR (CS teams and other teams) are important for both the customer and vendors.

2) Ensure that the CS team knows their responsibility in preparing, leading, and following up on BRs

3) Ensure that there is clear communication internally around how other departments than the CS can also contribute to preparing BRs, ex. customer testimonials and success stories, product use cases and evolutions etc.

4) Communicate clearly what is expected from the customer in order for BRs to be successful.

5) Start with a simple process and BR template. The process can be refined over time.

6) Define which quantitative and qualitative data is required to run the BR. Which data can be collected internally and which externally.

7) Define which internal and external tools (eg. customer collaboration) are needed to prepare, run and follow up the BR.

Can you point us towards the most important learnings?

Sue: 1) Always ensure that business reviews provide added value for all customer participants.

2) Keep an agenda that focuses on business value. Do not get bogged down with technical issues and bugs.

3) Ensure that the right participants are present depending on the type of business review (from the vendor and customer side)

4) Prepare business reviews mutually between vendors and customers. Communicate at the beginning of the relationship with customers that business reviews are an important partner event where mutual preparation is required for them to be meaningful and successful.

5) Allow a cadence for business reviews that suit customer needs. Do not plan a business review every 3 months (“Quarterly” BR) if it does not make sense and is not necessary.

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

Sue: For each customer meeting (business review of others), always ask at the beginning what a successful meeting would look like for the different participants. In a BR, this question should be asked well in advance and prepared accordingly (between the vendor and the customer). Ask at the end of the BR whether the meeting met the expectations of success. Learn from any gaps in order to improve future reviews.

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

Sue: Generally, it is always encouraging and stimulating to hear from customers themselves that they are reaching their goals. An example of a major win I personally experienced was with a customer that was having internal difficulties in positioning the tool they had invested in. Following our recommendations during the BR around change management and processes to overcome the hurdles, the customer stakeholders told us that they had never experienced such high-quality customer success. They communicated that they felt like they were in a “real business partnership”. For the CS team, this feedback was a major win.

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

Sue: Business reviews should be implemented as the crucial partnership event between the vendor and customers. Vendor executives should provide their support to CS leaders in ensuring that business reviews reflect the value of product/service promise and its execution. As the product and related service promise evolve, business reviews should be aligned. Expectations around business reviews should be presented to customer stakeholders during their onboarding. They should be presented as an ideal opportunity for customers to be transparent with the vendor about their adoption, performance, and business gains. It should be clearly communicated to customers that the agenda for BRs is about “business” and how the invested tool generates gains. Customers should also know what they should do in order to contribute to the BR preparation and follow-up.

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?

Sue: Business reviews should always be about helping customers reach their goals and become successful. Adoption metrics are just half of the story. Adoption data gives insights into usage but does not indicate what the outcomes/gains of that usage are. This is why BRs are important for customers to be transparent with vendors about reaching their performance goals. High adoption is not always synonymous with success. In certain cases, usage patterns may hide different use motivations. I use my methodology for this called A.M.P.M. (Adoption Measurement and Performance Measurement). Over time, data patterns can often be made between adoption and performance measurements for different use cases and personas.

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?

Sue: 1) Have a standard BR template which is shared by all the CS team.

2) The standard BR template can be adapted where necessary (e.g. different type of reviews, customer segments, certain use cases/personas, 1st, 2nd, 3rd review etc..)

3) Define which part of the template is to be completed before the BR by the customer, e.g. data on gains, reaching success milestones, use cases, champion testimonials, etc.

4) Customer collaboration tools can be used for BR template sharing

5) Ensure there is a BR followup plan with actions for both the vendor and customer before the next BR.

6) Ensure a mutually agreed date for the next BR for all impacted participants (customer and vendor)

Quarterly Business Review Template

P.S. – The main image has been taken from pexels.com

Swagata is Head of Marketing 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.