Best Way to Align with Customer Expectations
In a recent Voice of the Customer survey, I asked my customer’s customer, “Are the objectives of the relationship being met?”
The very quick response was, “absolutely.” Somewhat skeptical, my next question was, “How do you know?”
Again, the quick response was, “Quarterly Business Reviews.” “QBR’s,” I asked? “Yes, QBR’s, how else would I know?”
Are you still guessing or assuming that your customers are pleased with your service or that you are meeting the expectations of the relationship?
Here’s a quick review of the basic requirements to build, deliver and align yourself with your customers' expectations:
1. When is the best time to schedule QBR’s with your customer?
QBR’s should be scheduled just after a sale as part of the implementation of your solution. There is no better time to continue to demonstrate how confident you are in the solution you are providing and how committed you are to an extended customer relationship. Scheduling your QBR is more validation that your customer selected the right business partner. Then at the first QBR and each subsequent one, schedule the following one.
2. What are the must have topics covered in a QBR?
- Executive Summary: focus on customers' two to three top initiatives
- Financial Summary: total spend, baseline, savings, contract compliance and cost avoidance
- Quality/Customer Service: quality log, issues remediation, brand management and KPI performance
- Innovation Quotient (IQ): project log, special programs/training
- What’s new at your Company: relationship opportunity
- Customer Strategic Objectives and Next Steps: action items (both customer and company), new quarterly initiatives, validations of Reports, schedule next QBR
CAUTION: The most effective QBR is not a “data dump.” Provide the data on a thumb drive, but just report the financial highlights. Don’t misuse this valuable time on “review mirror” stats. The QBR opportunity for both sides is discussing and agreeing on what comes next.
3. Who should attend QBR meetings?
Take full advantage of the QBR as your opportunity to expand and Advance the Relationship. The benchmark is to be 3x3 in your customer relationships. Invite people that can help you move the relationship forward - people that can position you to gain recognition that, although you very much appreciate the current relationship, there is much more you could be providing to drive more effective solutions for your customer and your customers’ customers.
4. What should your customer expect from the QBR meeting?
Your QBR is your customer’s opportunity to validate their initial decision to select you as their business partner. If you are, in fact, doing your job and documenting the expectations of the relationship and facilitating a forward-thinking discussion, it’s game over. Also, each of the invitees learned more about you, your accomplishments and where you will continue to Advance the Relationship. As stated earlier, your customer will leave this meeting with a complete and objective understanding that the objectives of the relationship are being met.
5. What should you expect from the QBR meeting?
Do I really have to state the obvious? The door is now open. The QBR meeting successfully moved you even closer into your customers Operating Reality. You are an “insider.” Take full advantage of this opportunity. Here’s the problem: it’s only 89 days until the next QBR. Start working on it, now!
Back to my Voice of the Customer survey, “How does this relationship compare with other companies you have used?” The answer, “There is no comparison. They didn’t just sell me something and wait for the contract to expire, then come back and try to sell me something else. These guys are interested in helping me grow my business.”
How would your customers respond if they were asked the same Voice of the Customer questions? Is the QBR discipline another example of something “I used to do?”
It’s time to get on track or it’s time to develop a new good habit.
In Butler Street's Key Account Management training, participants learn how to structure and use QBR’s to Advance the Relationship with customers. Differentiate yourself from the competition and turn a three-year contract into a 20-year customer experience. Contact us today to learn more.
Frank Costantino is a Managing Partner at Butler Street, a leading management consulting, training and research firm that focuses on client and talent development. Prior to joining Butler Street, Costantino accumulated over three decades of successful sales and executive leadership experience. His passion for sales discipline and process has driven practical solutions for sales organization development, revenue and operating profit growth.
Costantino has been recognized with numerous sales and sales leadership awards. He has also received top honors from his peers and direct reporting teams in VOA rankings, and has also served on the Advisory Board of Target Account Selling. He holds a B. S. in Business Management from NYIT.