Why QBRs don’t work — and how to fix them

Most enterprise Customer Success organizations hold formal quarterly business reviews (QBRs) with customers. QBRs should afford wonderful opportunities to share knowledge and improve the connection with the customer — but often customers balk at scheduling them. Why?

  1. They last too long. Customers have lots on their plate and they, especially executives, don’t want to spend time on things that they see as irrelevant.
  2. They are not relevant to the customer’s concerns. You want them to hear about your wonderful new features, but they are concerned about their bottom line.
  3. They take too long to prepare. Gathering data, creating a custom message, and wrangling everyone’s schedule takes hours you could be investing in other pursuits.

The cure? Focus the QBR on the customer, not you, the vendor. Specifically:

  • Know and talk to the customer’s goals. What is your product/service doing to foster the customer’s strategic goals? (If you do not know what the customer’s goals are at all, you are in no position to hold a QBR!)
  • Talk about product fit. Discuss how your product meets customer goals now (this includes features, performance, and service) and how future enhancements may enhance the experience.
  • Bring relevant guests. Customers love it when they can have time with a product manager, for instance — even if the interaction is very short. Bringing guests enhances your status as a CSM, by the way, rather than diminish it.
  • Go short. If you cannot make your point in 30 minutes, you do not have a point. Better have a strong short meeting than a long, meandering one!

And on the logistical side:

  • Use templates. Think of templates as shortcuts to having to invent a new structure every time. You will customize, but faster. Templates also allow you to generate data easily because standard reports can be run for all customers, even if you only use a subset for each QBR.
  • Rehearse, including any guests you are bringing to the meeting. A short rehearsal vastly improves the end product, and in particular allows you to identify the critical points you need to make. If stakes are high, rehearse with your customer contact.
  • Delegate scheduling.  Scheduling is hard because (1) your current QBRs are not great so no one wants to attend and (2) you are trying to coordinate people whose schedule you cannot see. Prepare a great session, and let your contact schedule on his or her side.

What is your experience with QBRs? Share in the comments.

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