Creating Valuable QBRs w/ Emily Garza

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This is a podcast episode titled, Creating Valuable QBRs w/ Emily Garza. The summary for this episode is: <p>This week Emily Garza, AVP of Customer Success, joins the show. Emily and Jeff dive into QBRs and key factors to consider when putting them together.</p><p><br></p><p><br></p><p>If you want to join the discussion with thousands of other customer success leaders, join Gain Grow Retain: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p><br></p><p>This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...</p><p>Jay Nathan:<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p><p>Jeff Breunsbach: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"></a></p>
Types of Engagements Emily's Team is Doing with Customers
01:32 MIN
Key Talking Points in a Cadence Call
01:42 MIN
Aligning Your Messaging with the Attendee
00:53 MIN
Architecting a Story
00:57 MIN

Intro: Welcome to the Gain Grow Retain Podcast.

Speaker 1: Welcome back to another episode of Gain Grow Retain. Today, we have Emily Garza with us, who's the AVP of customer success at Fastly, and has also started a brand called Value CS with Emily. Tons of great content that she's putting out on LinkedIn and various other channels. So Emily, appreciate you hopping on with us today.

Emily Garza: Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: If you could go on a trip anywhere right now, just run into your closet, grab a backpack and get just go and jet set anywhere, where would you go?

Emily Garza: Oh, that is such a tempting question because of how much lockdown there's been. I would say if it's going somewhere that I've been before, Florence, Italy, because I'm just dreaming of the wine and all of the amazing food. Somewhere that is still on my bucket list, I'd say the pyramids in Egypt.

Speaker 1: Very cool. I'm jealous, my wife and I were supposed to go to Italy last year, we had planned a two and a half week trip and it was literally right at the end of May. And so we were watching this happen and we were just slowly getting more and more sad because it just is dwindling our opportunity, but hopefully, we'll get the chance, maybe 2022, we'll get the chance to go, but Florence was definitely on our list, heard great things.

Emily Garza: Yes. It's an amazing place.

Speaker 1: I know you've been putting out tons of great content on LinkedIn and trying to think about maybe some of the scenarios or situations that you find yourself in, that you're helping coach your teams around. And so I think we came up or came back to a couple of ideas of things that we could talk through today, especially maybe getting into some of the tactical pieces. And so I think we wanted to drill down in thinking about QBRs and strategies with customers potentially too, just around specific accounts. So maybe for some context, how do you think about the engagement model or the types of engagements that your customer success team is doing with customers?

Emily Garza: Our customer success team is tiered into three different groups. We've got our key accounts, which are those largest more strategic, think Multi- BU types of accounts. We've got our enterprise, so billing over a certain threshold, and then we've just recently launched more in the SMB support space with a tech touch digital first model. And so it's really interesting because each of those are obviously different, and how you interact with the customers and how things are set up. And when we originally started, the initial focus was on that enterprise for bright high touch, more like that. For us, it's a one to 20, one to 25 type range for coverage. And I think that's really... Mine is the tech touch which can be very structured, but I think that's really the sweet spot where you can start to still put together some structures and frameworks that can scale across customers and accounts. Well, adding in the customization, I feel once you get up to that key account level, everything's a little bit of a snowflake, so it becomes a little bit harder to make things quite as repeatable. So that's really where we focus is at least initially on that enterprise space of, how do we make templates and playbooks and at least best practice guides so that people could be going down the same road?

Speaker 1: Yeah. We're going through a similar exercise right now, which is why I thought it would be interesting. And I also think you're really passionate about the flip side too, about us thinking about how do you internally probably do some coaching around that, how do you make sure that you're checking in with your teams and whatnot? So I think we can probably hit on both sides, which would be really fun. So when you think about, like you said, finding some of those key engagements that you're doing with customers, is there one that stands out where you all have been able to standardize the playbook and you've been able to really see how that type of interaction can scale and also be able to measure those things? Is there one that stands out to you right now?

Emily Garza: I'd say, I think everybody, defaulter likes to talk about the QBR. I actually think in not all, but a lot of instances, you can get even more value out of the cadence call. So I would say a cadence call is going to be more focused on your day- to- day, your main contact. So you're not getting maybe that executive buy- in or alignment, which you might be getting through a QBR, but I do think you can get a lot of really good insight if you're doing a cadence call correctly. And I think that it's this idea of moving away from, " Hey, I had a meeting with the customer, I checked the box. everything's good, I'll mark them as green and the health score and call it a day," to really how are you driving value and making sure that it's worthwhile for us, it's worthwhile for the customer? So I feel that's the one that we tend to focus on more, and it also happens more, you're able to iterate and execute on it better because you're doing it more often.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I'm going to ask you about that thought in a second, about the getting more value to the EBR and QBR type of scenario because I think I might agree with you, and I think it would be fun for us to talk about why, but I'm curious on your cadence call, you had just mentioned, I think the cadence call probably in the context that you're talking about, you've put some definition around it, it seems like there's probably going to be some structure. So how do people avoid it just becoming in everything call and still making it an effective time with a customer where we're building the right relationship, but we're also helping them get to the right outcomes? I'm curious if there's anything that sticks out when you look at your cadence call, that you're just like, " Yep. This is our secret sauce, this is how we make sure that it's really valuable for both sides of the coin."

Emily Garza: I think in terms of topics or agendas, the key things that we include in a cadence call, you're looking at any outstanding project status, where are we today? What are the next steps? Who actually owns them and the timeline? So drilling into a little bit more of those specifics rather than just, " Hey, here's where we are today." I think similar to a QBR doing, if there are any company updates on either side, I think we're always really apt to want to share our information, but sometimes we forget to ask the customer what's going on in their world and what might be changing, and actually impact projects that we're working on or other conversations that we've been having. And then I think it also allows you to get into maybe some of those more granular details that wouldn't be appropriate for QBR. So reviewing recent tickets or feedback where you can make sure that you're closing the loop or checking the box with your main contacts, making sure that they understand maybe the reason for a recent outage or why that ticket was resolved in a certain way, because they're often getting those questions from their leaderships, making sure that they're empowered to be able to answer that. And then we tend to wrap up on just alignment. So any upcoming meetings, who's supposed to be there, making sure that we're aligned on the agenda for those sorts of things. And then what are those key milestones between this cadence call and the next one, whether it's two weeks, four weeks, whatever that timeline might be?

Speaker 1: Yeah. The word that keeps coming to mind for me is, it seems in those cadence calls, you're just really acting like a partner instead of a vendor. I think a lot of times we try... I just think that it becomes a misnomer in the industry where people are like, " Oh, how do we get outside of being thought of as a vendor?" And one way to do that is like you said, just start imposing yourself in a way that is collaborative. We're in that meeting and we're going through things and we're trying to find opportunities for us to talk, for them to talk, like you said, alignment on future meetings, making sure that we know who the key stakeholders are. But to me, I think that's probably one of the best ways that you can start to get your teams to think about that as, " Hey, how do we just start acting a partner and a thought leader and how do we start forcing them to think about us in that bucket rather than forcing them to think about us in the vendor bucket where we're just calling for a check- in?" And so I think like you said, you called out some key pieces, but I also think the behind the scenes, the idea behind that is like, " Hey, we really want to be a partner with this organization, and if we just call for check- ins and we don't follow up on things, we don't do the right things, then we're always going to be thought of as a vendor and it's going to be easy to cut our line item." The second thing, I don't know why but I've always been very passionate about meetings and agendas and preparation for meetings. And I also just think that nine times out of 10 internal meetings, external meetings, nine times out of 10, there's probably not really an agenda, there's not really pre- reading or context ahead of time. I would just say in the last year, I would venture to guess that all of us are running from meeting to meeting, and the context switching is really hard, there's not a lot that has been prepared in terms of an agenda that we can read into. So I even think too, coaching your teams to do that really well is probably an area where you also just pick up some points, because if I walk into a meeting it's so well- run that I remember it, that's a brand interaction that I'm going to remember like, " Oh my gosh, Emily at Fastly had this agenda that she whipped over. She gave us slides ahead of time. She gave us opportunities to talk. She asked us directly for our opinions on things." If I just remember that, think about the meetings you have today and how memorable that would be if one just stood out and then you're like, " Oh my gosh, I'm going to remember Emily from Fastly forever because it's... " So I just think about that too. I don't know if you've seen that yourself or I don't know if you feel as passionate as I do about trying to make sure that we get outside of just this adding a meeting, throwing a Zoom on and get beyond that, but that's just something I've always thought about recently.

Emily Garza: Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's both internal and external problem. Just because you're internally on my team, doesn't mean that you get away with a lack of agenda. I still want to know what we're going to talk about, I still want to be prepared. And I think, yeah, being able to take the time to set up the agenda. And I was actually just talking to someone on this earlier this week and he had shared an agenda with me and I was like, " That gives me nothing. It means nothing. It's a like one word." I forgot what the example was, but I was like, I don't know how to interpret that to even... It's basically he gave me no agenda because it was so generic. And so also thinking about yes, you don't need to write an entire book as an agenda, but being able to give people a little bit more of an indication of, " Here's what we're going to talk about. I'm going to present it, you're going to present it." Letting them of know how they can best be prepared, I agree. I think it's one of the most frustrating things when someone is asking for your time, but not giving you any indication of what to expect from that. I want to meet with people, I'm happy to share, but you got to give me some direction because then if I'm not the right person, I want to be able to point you in a better direction. If you're going to end up asking me about something that I had no context in, let's not waste either our times, let's just get you the right person.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I've been doing this thing recently, and maybe this'll help, I'll give you the five second version, but I've been trying to use one of the... I think there's three meetings that you're having. One is informational, where it's purely, " Hey, I'm just reading you into this situation. No offense, but I'm not really asking for opinion, a decision's already been made. This is purely just hey, I'm reading you in and I just want you to be at the same level of information that I am." The second meeting I call alignment meeting, which is, " Hey, I'm going to present some things, but we're going to openly discuss this. There needs to be a give and take, a back and forth where we're sharpening the idea, sharpening the strategy, whatever we're talking about, and we'll get to a better place at the end." And then the third type of meeting is we're actually making a decision. We need a concrete decision because there are future things, future projects timelines, whatever else that's hindered on us making a decision. And so that's just something that I've been using internally recently. In the meetings that I own I've been going through and hopefully if anybody out there from our team listening is putting that. And so I'll put like, it's this type of meeting in a one sentence about why I think it's that type of meeting. And then I've just been keeping my agenda to three bullet points. But to your point, I try to make them sentences not one words. I try and make it at least like a 10 to 12 word like, " Hey, this is what we're trying to accomplish, or this is what we're trying to do. And then I just put the timing in there too. I just always try, again, I'm just trying to be very conscious recently especially because I do a lot of customer calls as well, where if I'm having back- to- back calls and every call is in half an hour, I never get three minutes, four minutes call. So I'm trying to drive everything down, if it's a half an hour call, I'm trying to end it by 25 minutes. And so I'll just put that timing in there to, " Hey, we're trying to end five minutes early to let everyone go." But those are a couple of things I've been trying to do recently. So I don't know if that helps you or if you have another framework that you think about when you're trying to schedule meetings, but that's something that I've been trying recently and I've liked it because it helps me also just prepare a lot better and be a better facilitator in meetings.

Emily Garza: Yeah. I love that. And I am a huge fan of time- blocking, especially for QBR type meetings where there tends to be a lot of stuff to cover. You always plan for an hour, but could always go an hour and a half where it's like, " No, we've got to really focus." And so I definitely drive my team of, " Okay. This topic, who owns it? How long are we going to talk about it? And then how do we transition into the next one?" I also loved your point on the informational meetings. So one thing that I actually had from my marketing team earlier this year, they were collecting feedback on a customer event. And with all of the changes, with lockdown, how are we going to structure? What's most impactful to sales and customer success? Number one, appreciate that they're asking. Love that. But then what I really enjoyed that they did is they had all of these information gathering meetings and then they put slides together of, " Here's the feedback that we got." And they used some tool and recorded it. So instead of it being, " Hey, let's all find these 20 people one spot on their calendar, which is probably now three months out," it was instead of a 30- minute meeting, " Here's a five- minute recording of us going through the lessons that we got from everyone, all the feedback. If you then have feedback on this, feel free to reach out." But it was a super consolidated way, especially for, to your point that informational meeting where it's more of that one way conversation that I thought was so incredible. Just a great consolidation of time, but you're still getting the information.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I like that example a lot too, where they had smaller pockets and then tried to consolidate everything and then shared it out more broadly. We're about to go do a listening exercise with... We had an acquisition that we made a couple of weeks ago, almost a month ago now, and so we're going to listen to 100 customers from that customer base. And so one of the things that we're trying to do is also go through... Every two weeks, we want to give a simple readout, but to your point, it's not going to be to the nth degree and to every little detail that's happened. So how do we start boiling some up some of these themes and some of the larger pieces? But to me, that's another informational type meeting that we'll be having every two weeks, and it'll be maybe a 15 to 20- minute conversation, but it's like, " Hey, if you're available and free and you want to hop on the Zoom, come in, listen, ask a few questions. If there's anything that's pertinent or anything, we'll share that more broadly in our employee community as well.

Emily Garza: Yeah, that's great.

Speaker 1: Let's go back to the EBR for a second. I liked your point because I think I tend to agree that everyone really to focus on the QBR and the EBR type of interaction, because I think it's just the easy one to grasp where it's like, " Hey, this is a strategic" strategic meeting." We're going to get X involved and whatnot." So maybe where do you see that type of interaction maybe fall short? Or why did you say the cadence meeting might be a little bit, even more important than that QBR? EBR?

Emily Garza: I think number one, there's the naming component. And I think everyone in CS, here's QBR and you're like, " Okay, I know what that means. It's like a more strategic meeting with some cadence." But everyone outside of CS is like, " Oh, you meet with your customer quarterly?" It's like, " Eh, probably not." That's more of the rare exception than it is the rule because it really depends on the customer and how you've structured those communications, but at least from our perspective, we're doing it in our enterprise space maybe three times a year. So it's not really quarterly, very hard to get people to meet in a November, December timeframe. Nobody really wants to do work at that point. So I think some of it is just the nomenclature that we use and the expectations that it sets. But I also think that it's really thinking about the right message for the right attendees. So we tend to want to cram either super tactical things in the QBR. And then you've got executives who you've invited that now never want to come back again because you've totally lost them, they don't care about all those details. Or you only have the same people that you meet with in the cadence meeting and you're trying to have this different level of conversation, but they don't have maybe the insight into the stuff that you're trying to get. They can't talk about the company direction in the next five years because that's not where their world lives. So I think really trying to align those, that attendee and messaging is something that becomes a little bit trickier for business reviews.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I love this because I tend to agree as well, and a couple of things maybe come to mind, tell me if you agree or disagree with some of these things. But number one, I do think that facilitation is a skill that is hard for people to learn. And when you get in front of an executive team and you talk about doing this type of executive business review, the status quo maybe is like, " I'm going to read out on what we've done, I'm giving you a lot of slides with data and all this stuff that we're doing." And I just tend to think that's almost the wrong mindset because it's like, " Okay, that stuff's already all happened." An executive coming to that meeting, like you said, the executives, they're getting paid to think one year out, not three months out. Their feel the vision is three months, six months, nine months, 12 months down the road. They're not thinking about, " Hey, what's going to happen tomorrow?" And so if you're reading out... Jeff Bezos had a quote recently about his executive team, and he's like, " If my executive team, isn't thinking three to five years out, then they're getting sucked into the wrong thing, they're getting into the wrong conversations." And that just always rings in my mind. And so facilitation, I think is really hard because it's a skill I think our teams need to get better and develop that. We need to be coaching them to how do you handle that type of meeting? How do you pass the microphone, especially, but digitally now? How do you keep people engaged? How do you call on certain people? It's do a back and forth. But I think it starts with thinking about the content. And I think the way I've thought about doing this in the future is, can you boil down that historical context into one or two slides? And can it be who is Fastly? What did we help you accomplish? And where's the market or what are the trends where they're going? Those are the three things that I think if you can answer those in two slides, I think an executive would be like, " Oh my gosh, this is golden." And then I think to your point, the facilitation and what starts to happen in those meetings is then you can start thinking about the forward questions of, where are you going in five years? How are we going to be a better partner with you? What are the slides that you're worried about in the next board presentation that's coming up? What's on your whiteboard that needs to get done? Those types of just overarching open- ended questions. So I think the other piece too, I think if you can do those two slides really well, and you can send them ahead of time, you leave the first 10 to 15 minutes to talk through that and a constructive way, " Hey, what questions? Did you have? Did you have a chance to read this? What are we working on? Give them maybe a little taste of the future vision. And then I think you start leaving the end for those types of questions and that type of dialogue where I think it could go really well. But those are a couple of things that I've just noticed where I think that they've been offs in similar, I think I agree with you that they could definitely be better and more thoughtful about how we're doing them. The other piece that I love that you mentioned too, is the naming of it. I've been thinking a lot recently, how could you name something in your industry? So we serve the community industry, so it's like, " Hey, instead of making a QBR, could it just be your community business review or something that I don't know, elicits maybe something that's a little bit more akin to how they talk about it as well, rather than something that we would be designated with, which I think you mentioned. So I rambled for a little bit, but anything you agree with or disagree with what I said.

Emily Garza: Yeah. I loved the point of the short recap. Most of the meetings should be future looking, future planning, but I do think it is important to have some of that recap because if you think about it, you don't know either what messaging is getting up to the executives or if any messaging is getting up to the executives. So being able to use that time to recap those accomplishments, I think is incredibly important. And I think where we've seen it be most successful is where that piece of the presentation is jointly held by us and maybe our champion or our main contact. So it's not just us saying, " Hey, we've done all these amazing things for you," but you're giving their people a spotlight to share in the celebration and get some of the kudos from the work that they've been doing. So I think that that piece is really important to not only share the accomplishment, but also showcase the partnership.

Speaker 1: That is such a good point too. That is almost another challenge that starts to happen where you feel like as the partner, as the vendor in the room, we're the ones who have to deliver the entire thing, we're building the whole thing. And I think the more that you can make that a collaboration with your day- to- day contact and give them speaking parts, again, I think that elicits back to that, " Hey, how are we acting more as a partner?" And when you do those things, you act more as a partner, and then those executives start to notice that as well, they're like, " Oh, Jeff is talking in the meeting alongside Emily. You guys have been collaborating a lot, you've been working together." Again, we start to become a little bit more ingrained in their business. And I think that those are little small things that I think over time, start to add up a lot. And I love that point that you just mentioned, because I think that again, small thing that I think a lot of people don't think about just giving your day- to- day context speaking parts, making sure to run the slides by them., and just like you said, like, " Hey, what's the context of how you position this internally before? What are we positioning differently?" So very valuable point, I think.

Emily Garza: Yeah. And a lot of it goes to the internal prep. A QBR slides or even agenda, you're not putting that together the day before, or if you are, you're doing it wrong. So making sure you've got buy- in from your internal team of, " Hey, this is the message that we want to deliver," but you're also running it to your point by your main contactor champion, because the more that you can not only showcase things in partnership with them, but use their terminology, it starts to show how ingrained you are in the business. I don't want to be talking about one thing when you calculate it a different way Let's use the things that you talk about in your business every day because it will be more relatable. You'll be able to absorb it faster, and it'll just show that I care, I know about your business.

Speaker 1: Yeah. The other thing that sticks out in my mind too, is just I think whether it's the cadence meeting or the QBR, EBR whatever you're calling it is the ability to architect a story and be able to make slides that are appealing. Again, I think over time like you mentioned earlier, we've gotten into this check the box type of mode where we're just trying to do things to check the box. And so I think the other thing that I have spent a lot of time on recently, and one it's probably because I'm a nerd, and two it's probably because I'm just, I don't know, just trying to... I think it's a useful skill maybe that's really underrated right now is just the power of writing and writing really well in a business context. And so it's like, how do you make headlines on your slides read a sentence rather than just like you said, one word that I won't really get any context out of? How do you make it so that if I read the first line of your slide, it makes me want to read the second, and the third, and keep moving down? How do you make a compelling story? Because I think we've lost the art of that a little bit, and I think it's now a little too just giving you a chart, giving you a graph, just showing, " Hey, here's what happened from A to B," but what's the why? What's the how? What did we impact? How do we do that? That's all the stuff that I think is the good story that if you can really architect that well, I think that's also probably just what makes a more compelling deck or meeting. And I think about that a lot like appendix slides. I think some of our customers are interested maybe about what's happening on the roadmap for our product over the next quarter or two, but also I think some of them probably don't care that much. And so it's maybe hit a couple of things on that, but then how do you make a compelling slide that says, " Hey, here's what you're going to care about on the product roadmap moving forward. And here's how it's going to impact your business." Not just a list of, " Here are the features that are coming," but translating those features into business outcomes like you said, helping them understand how it's going to impact their business, it probably goes a long way too.

Emily Garza: Yeah. I think that goes back to the balance of, how do you start with a template, but then be able to customize it. If we've already talked to you about this and this is where cadence meetings can become helpful too, like, " Let me start to flush out this idea, see if there's interest, if so, great, let's talk about it in a more strategic context like a QBR," because I've already tested the waters a little bit, where you're not throwing this thing out there and they're like, " No, we told the last account team a year ago, we'd never be interested." You're like, " Oh crap. Now it looks I don't know the background." But I also love the point around architecting a story. I think some of the coaching that I've done on the team is great. You took a screenshot of our UI, customer could have gone and done that themselves too, what are we trying to share with this? And I think sometimes people are... I think we've gotten so much coaching or feedback in our lifetime of like, don't put too many words in the PowerPoint slides that people tend to be word averse, but then you lose that idea of the messaging of the slide. So it's like, " Okay, put the graph, but then give me a line or two of what should be my takeaway here. So that way, if I'm either miss the meeting or I'm going back after, I can go look at that slide and I don't need someone to explain it to me. It's clear enough that I can get what you're trying to communicate by just looking at it myself."

Speaker 1: Yeah. One other thing that I think about a lot, I don't know, and I'm curious if you've done this, I don't think I've had this done to me, we use a lot of tools and I have QBRs and whatnot with some of our vendors, but I don't think anybody's done this, but I was literally just thinking too how nice it would be is if personally, if Emily, if you're leading the meeting and helping us execute the EBR, QBR, whatever it is, is also to send a personal email afterwards where you set up maybe your own survey or something that has some quick pointed feedback, some specific questions that they can help, how do we improve this meeting for next time? The more I'm thinking about it, I just don't remember getting any of those types of after emails from some of the vendors that we work with, which now thinking about it, I'm like, what a great valuable touch point probably to your point like, " Hey, how are we going to make this better in the future?" And it just serves as another way to say, " Hey, we're thinking about how valuable your time is. We want this to improve, we want to make sure that we're always moving this forward." So I don't know if that's something you all do now or not, but I just thought about that. Hopefully not, I'm not thinking like, " Oh, this is a mass survey from Gainsight or something." But could you architect it where it's an easy type form or something that's just a couple of questions, how do you make it easy for them to fill out? But that was just a thought that came to my mind real quick.

Emily Garza: Yeah. I love the thought. I feel I've tried it in some capacity, a couple of different ways. I've tried getting pre- meeting feedback of, " How are we doing? Tell us now so we can talk about it in the meeting." I've tried the post like, " How did the meeting go?" And I think in order for it to be successful, you either need a coordinator on the customer side or someone who's going to help bug them to complete it, or you need to be really clear upfront like, " Hey, I'm going to be sending this out, and here's how we're going to use it." Giving that context because otherwise, I think it feels a little bit like, " Okay, well, we just asked you for an hour for this meeting, now we're going to ask you for more time to fill out this survey." It starts to become more of an ask on a customer, but I think you can preempt that by sharing some of the context of, " Here's why we're asking, and here's how we want to use this to improve." And I would think that would increase your response rate.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Especially giving them the context how you're going to do that. Man, this is awesome. I've been loving this. I know we've probably got just a couple of minutes left. You mentioned earlier, coaching your team and making sure, how are we thinking about some of these things? Are you listening to gong recordings? Are you in on some of these calls? What have you found to be effective when you're trying to help coach and think about how do you help your team progress and think about some of these situations? Obviously there's the enablement, maybe the templates and the standard definitions and playbooks that you might be developing. But I'm curious, what have you found is like, " Hey, if we can do these things one, two, three, then we can do good coaching. We can have good enablement." That whole process, I'm curious if there's anything that sticks out?

Emily Garza: I think from my perspective, we don't have any recording tools or anything that we're using. And I actually feel that's... Well, post- meeting feedback is helpful if you have it, you should share it. I think spending the time upfront actually before the meeting is probably more helpful. So yeah, it is creating those templates of, " Here's at least what we want everyone to start with." Or, " Here's the structure that you can start with." Take relieve, what makes sense for your customer, really offloading that from each individual person needing to create... It's the playbooks of, " Hey, when you're preparing for QBR, here's the 10, 15 steps that you should be going through. Here's where you should be looking for data." Just making sure that it's really easy for someone who's ramping in the role to understand, this is our standard process. And at least the way you should be thinking about it, whether or not all that data makes it in the QBR, that then comes down to the CSM making their own decision and driving the agenda. And then I think it's doing prep meetings. So all of our QBRs, we do prep meetings for and just make sure that we're running through the slides, we're running through the objective of the meeting, we're figuring out, who's going to take which part? And all of that stuff. So it allows us to have some of those conversations beforehand of like, " Oh, what if the customer brings this up?" Or, " We think this might be sensitive, how do we want to tackle it?" Rather than just the, " Oh, we realized during the meeting that was really sensitive. We should've thought about that before and figured out how we're going to approach it." So it's probably not the most scalable method, but something that we're trying to do, especially for I'd say a younger CSM or earlier to your company CSM who's still learning your company way, being a lot more invested in some of those prep meetings and helping guide them on what is normal there, has been really helpful.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I think your point earlier ring true. If you're a developing the agenda a day ahead of time, then you're already too late. You need to be thinking probably a week in advance of all these things and being able to architect and graft it. Awesome. Well, this has been really fun for me just because I think there's so many good takeaways. I jotted it down to the notes while we were talking, but to summarize, I think looking at what are effective ways to be holding meetings both internally and externally, thinking about your cadence call and how to make that really effective for your customer, making sure it's valuable for both sides of the coin. And then thinking about your QBR and EBR, how do you make that feel like it's more of the customer owned it or owns it? How do you make sure that they play a big part? How do you name it something that really aligns with their business, and think about that preparation. I think this has been fun for me, Emily. I have one final question and then I'm going to let you do your shameless plug and make sure you get an opportunity to talk about all the cool things that you're doing. Last question though, I noticed when I asked you to do this, you sighed up and said that if you had to go build a community, it was around real estate. So talk about that for a minute. Do you just love real estate? Are you on Zillow every day, just looking up houses around you? Are you headfirst and do a project? Tell me a little bit about why you thought about building a real estate community in your free time?

Emily Garza: Yeah. I'm definitely the Zillow person. So if I had that unlimited money it would be, where can I buy a new house? And I think it's the buying and it's the transforming, so how do you then make it your own? And I've had fun doing a couple projects on various homes that I've owned over the years of understanding, what adds value, but what is also the thing that you want. I don't think that you can always just invest money of like, " Here's the future return." If it's somewhere that you're living, you want to enjoy it. And I've also had the experiences where I'm kicking myself, because it's like, " Oh, to do that update would have only been this amount of money." And I put it off and put it off because I thought it was going to be bigger, I didn't do enough research. And I could have enjoyed it the whole time, and now you want me to invest this money just to make it look good to sell and somebody else is going to get it. So I think it's this constant evolution. There are definitely real estate communities and podcasts and everything out there that I've I flirted with, try to pay attention to, but I think a lot of them are, at least to me, they were slightly overwhelming where it's like, I don't know who has the money to buy a 20- unit complex? Not me.

Speaker 1: I know what you mean.

Emily Garza: I'm trying to make it to what's the next day. But I think it is really interesting just the market and then you start to get into all the economics and all of the back pieces too, it's not just the pretty house. So I think that there's different levels of complexity depending on how deep you want to get into it.

Speaker 1: Yeah. Your definition there of, when do you do things in your house? My wife and I we go through the same conversations where we're like, " All right, we would probably enjoy this for the next three or four years, but is it really going to add value? Should we do it?" We're just talking about doing this little back patio thing. So that resonates with me on a very deep level. Well, if people want to find more of you and what you've been doing with Value CS with Emily, what's the place to do that? Where can they find you? Can you do shameless plug? You have the floor, take it away.

Emily Garza: Well, thanks. One of the things that I've been so inspired by over the pandemic is just how much people have leaned into sharing knowledge and doing those passion projects that were maybe on the back burner or not yet started and it's like, " Uh, I've run out of things on Hulu and Netflix, I guess it's time to actually kick this off." And so one of the things that I've been thinking about a lot over the last year, year and a half is as people have transitioned completely to remote meetings, as we were talking about before, it's just meeting, stacked on meetings, stacked on meeting. The stuff that you used to be able to accomplish at the water cooler or walking between conference rooms, now it takes a scheduled meeting, which is a little bit frustrating, but also it creates these packed days. And so from a CSM perspective, you always want the meeting to mean something, but now I feel like the stakes are even higher of needing to provide value in every customer interaction. So that was the inspiration behind Value CS with Emily, and just an opportunity for me to share and give back to the community of things that I've learned along the way. And so the website is valuecswithemily. com. And then I share a lot of the infographics on LinkedIn as well. Those are my two primary platforms. I'll say, I don't have the bandwidth and/ or interest to spread to too many social media. I give people props too, I can manage all that, that's just, I think, beyond my capacity. But I like to highlight my learnings, but also showcase other podcasts, other conferences that are coming up. There's so many amazing leaders in the CS space, and being able to highlight and celebrate them.

Speaker 1: Yeah. I've enjoyed it. I follow along on LinkedIn. You post a lot of awesome like you said, infographics, and you're always just trying to think about how do you drive value in the community? So I certainly read it and appreciate it, I bet a lot of other people do, so I'm excited. Thank you so much for coming on, Emily. Hopefully your real estate and home project goes well. And we'll see you on the other side of that here fairly soon.

Emily Garza: Thanks so much.

Speaker 1: Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to listen to the Gain Grow Retain Podcast. If you liked what you heard, please take a moment and share the podcast with your friends and colleagues, and subscribe. We really appreciate it. Talk to you soon.


This week Emily Garza, AVP of Customer Success, joins the show. Emily and Jeff dive into QBRs and key factors to consider when putting them together.

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This podcast is brought to you by Jay Nathan and Jeff Breunsbach...

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Today's Host

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Jeff Breunsbach

|Director of Customer Experience at Higher Logic
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Jay Nathan

|Chief Customer Officer at Higher Logic

Today's Guests

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Emily Garza

|AVP of Customer Success, Fastly