If you learn to launch them in the right way, they can help provide the fuel to push your Customer Success team past its goals.
Structuring and running QBRs that keep the customer at the center while also growing your product can be tricky. But, we’re here to give you the best practices and things to remember while you think about how to run yours. In this guide, we dig into the most essential parts of a stellar quarterly business review and lay out ways for you to craft QBRs that drive your whole company forward.
What is a Quarterly Business Review?
Simply put, a quarterly business review, or executive business review, is a once-per-quarter meeting with your customer. The focus is value rather than status or technical questions. It’s a chance to show off ROI and connect with customers on a deeper level, forwarding your company’s mission at the same time. These face-to-face meetings are some of the most effective tools in a customer success manager’s (CSM) toolbox. But they’re also extremely delicate. That’s what makes mastering QBRs so important.
To be successful, QBRs must be strategic. They provide a chance to grab a deeper understanding of the customer’s business and future plans. And they provide the raw materials to fuel strategies that deliver more value. All the while, QBRs position you as a trustworthy adviser rather than a self-interested vendor. This helps build trust, which, in turn, solidifies your relationship with the customer.
Why Should Your Company Conduct Quarterly Business Reviews?
Keeping in touch with customers may seem easy in the early stages of your company’s growth. Because you likely have fewer customers than larger, more established companies, it’s easier to maintain individual relationships with
However, as your company grows, those relationships become more difficult to sustain. And it can become impossible to scale that kind of one-to-one touch efficiently. Still, strong relationships are crucial to your continued success at every stage of growth.
QBRs provide a structured plan that ensures your relationship-building efforts don’t fall by the wayside. At the same time, they also reveal important information that you can use to carve out more positive experiences for customers—experiences that deliver more value and fit your broader growth plans.
What Are The Biggest Benefits of QBRs?
Forge Stronger Relationships
QBRs strengthen partnerships between your business and your customers.
Carve Deeper Executive Bonds
They foster relationships between your executives and your customer’s executives.
Show Off ROI
They give you a chance to highlight the ROI of your product and reinforce your value to your customer.
Create Clearer Direction
QBRs open up honest discussions about your customers’ overall health and what you can do to maintain and improve that status.
Reduce Contract Questions
QBRs help reassure you that your customer will renew their contract or subscription once it expires.
Build More Trust
They demonstrate to your customer that you’re serious about providing ROI and that you expect to do so within a 90-day period.
Ultimately, QBRs help you move your customer in the direction most beneficial to them—which naturally will be the direction most beneficial to you as well. After all, if the customer doesn’t experience success with your product, there’s a good chance that customer eventually will churn—and that’s not good for either party.
Too often, leaders will treat QBRs as just another box to check off the list, heading into meetings with little strategic vision. That’s a costly mistake. QBRs are a valuable chance to understand the value your product currently delivers to your customers, what they are looking for in the future, and boost your company’s value to key stakeholders throughout the organization. Simply put, the best QBRs follow a clear structure and strategy.
QBR Examples & Tips to Feed Your Company’s Broader Goals
Prepare a QBR Plan
A QBR without a strategy is a waste of everyone’s time. It also puts you at risk of churn. Create an agenda and make sure all attending parties receive it well ahead of the meeting time. A focused agenda will set expectations and make it easier for customers to craft their most important questions or points of discussion ahead of time.
Emphasize Business ROI
QBRs are a chance to put ROI on display and help your customers realize value. That’s why ROI should be a centerpiece of these meetings. To determine what ROI to focus on, ask yourself, “Why did our customer purchase our product in the first place, and over the last quarter, how well have we fulfilled that need?” Present numbers and data points that demonstrate the value you have delivered in that time period.
This is the perfect opportunity to revisit the mutual success plans that you crafted with your customers at the beginning of the engagement. Track your progress, adjust timelines based on new goals or learnings your customers provide, and consider what else is possible based on the goals you’ve already reached.
Keep the conversation personalized to that specific customer, the goals they’ve outlined, and what is possible for them based on what you know about their product adoption and usage. Spend the most time during this part of the QBR so that you know exactly how to deliver value and guarantee renewals, adoption, and expansion.
Present Benchmarking Data
Companies love to see how well they’re doing in comparison to their competitors. If you can correlate that success to your product using hard metrics, they’ll be eager to continue doing business with you. Ensure that you’re noting what sticks out to your customers, what questions they ask, what metrics they discuss so that your sales and marketing organizations can use that information to drive expansions and upsells. While this may not be the time to make those upsells, it is important to share the knowledge learned in each one and provide any identified actionable insights.
Set Up Your Next Quarterly Business Review
Lay out important goals for the next quarter. In some cases, this might be a good time to bring up expansion opportunities or new products and add-ons that will help the company achieve its goals. Be sure to confirm the goals with your customers, outline who will be responsible for the various tasks associated with those goals, and any other important details.
Remember, these meetings must be strategic value-adds for your customers. Simultaneously, they must outline to your CSMs where the customer wants to go, how to get there, and any opportunities in the future that they should communicate to the broader team.
Lean On Your Customer Health Index
Immediately after the QBR, the CSMs should transfer all important notes to that customer’s record and tag all important team members. The new context will update their customer health score, which should also be shared amongst hte larger group. Provide your most insightful data in the form of a customer health index (CHI). Not sure what a CHI is or how can you calculate it? Don’t worry. That’s all covered in the next section.
How To Calculate a Customer Health Index
Customer health index (CHI) is a single score, usually from 1-100, that measures a customer’s relationship with your company. That means that the closer a customer is to 100, the more engaged they are with your product. On the other hand, if a customer has a CHI score that’s closer to 0, they may be in danger of churning or could be having a negative experience.
Of course, there’s no such thing as a perfect customer. So you may be wondering how you set up your customer health index. To start, it’s best to base your CHI on multiple weighted numbers. Remember, most customers are looking for cold, hard numbers—not just abstract, subjective opinions. To make your CHI assessment as impactful as possible, you should be able to explain in detail how you arrived at that figure.
As you start forming your CHI assessment, here are some factors to consider:
Depth of Product Usage
Product usage depth describes how much your product a customer uses. If your company offers multiple products, it may also mean how many products your customers use.
Breadth of Product Usage
To measure the breadth of product usage, dig into how much the customer’s company uses your product. In this case, it can be helpful to determine if the company has multiple departments or functions and if all of those roles use your product. If they don’t, ask yourself if departments that should be using your product aren’t.
Engagement considers how often customers interact with your product and how they use your product. At the same time, you may want to decide if the customer is an advocate for your product. After all, if they are using your product often, they’re probably willing to promote it.
Customer feedback, surveys, and Net Promoter Score (NPS) are excellent tools to gauge your customers’ satisfaction and gather insight into your product experience.
Support usage can reveal red flags in your user’s experience. If the customer has submitted a large number of tickets, they could be growing frustrated with your product. But, if the customer hasn’t submitted any tickets at all, it could be a sign that they aren’t using your product very frequently—and that is a precursor to churn.
Amount and Quality of Feedback
If the customer is providing valuable product feedback, it’s a sign that they’re committed to your partnership. It shows that the customer is investing in your product, which means the customer sees a future with your company as a partner.
Age of Customer
Your customer’s age represents the length of time the customer has been using your product. If a customer has been with you for a long time, it’s a sign of satisfaction.
Creating and calculating CHI scores may seem like a big job. However, it’s well worth it when you consider how useful scores can be both for you and your customers. It’s also worth noting that software such as Gainsight CS will help you define and calculate your CHI scores instantly. In all cases, these scores help you keep a finger on the pulse of customers, and they can be a powerful asset to bring into your QBRs.
How To Avoid Common QBR Mistakes
Now that you know what you should cover during your QBRs, let’s talk about some general no-nos.
How to Run Productive Business Review Meetings
Keep it Positive
If possible, steer clear of in-depth discussions about anything negative. Highlight successes rather than dwelling on any shortcomings. That said, you should give the customer the opportunity to provide honest feedback. That way you’ll have the opportunity to assure the customer that you can solve any issues or problems they have experienced.
Embrace and Use Criticism
Resist going on the defensive if the customer brings up any issues or challenges. Again, focus on the positives, and turn conversations about problems into conversations about solutions. Remember that this is an opportunity to find new valuable features to add to your product map to expand your customer base and increase upsells if you start to see themes in these conversations.
Keep it Short
By setting a time limit on your QBRs, it motivates you to keep the meeting tight and focused. As a general rule of thumb, try not to let the meeting go longer than an hour.
Set up Next Steps
Don’t leave the meeting without scheduling the next QBR. This shows the customer you intend to follow through on everything discussed and that you will deliver results by the time you meet again.
Pros and Cons of Using a QBR Template
Sometimes it’s easier to have a QBR template to follow as you’re creating meetings.
In some cases, software will even provide access to built-in templates that incorporate data that’s being tracked within your instance. These baked-in templates make it easy to create customized, data-rich slides to guide your QBRs.
However, in all cases, it’s important that you’re delivering the data and not relying too heavily on boilerplate templates. After all, one of the main reasons to conduct these meetings in the first place is to demonstrate your unique value to the customer as well as convey a sense of how important the customer is to you. That means each meeting—and the materials used at the meeting—should be tailored specifically to the customer.
When approached thoughtfully, QBRs can help build bridges between your company and your customers, forming strong connections that will last throughout the customer lifecycle.
…One of the main reasons to conduct these meetings in the first place is to demonstrate your unique value to the customer as well as convey a sense of how important the customer is to you.
Grow the Whole Enterprise With Rock-Solid Customer Success
Quarterly business reviews are a powerful customer success tool, but they just scrape the surface when it comes to driving enterprise-wide customer success. By focusing on a customer-focused strategy, it’s possible to radiate customer success throughout the entire organization and propel the whole enterprise forward.
Wondering how? Download “Customer Success as a Driving Function of Enterprise-Wide Success and Transformation” now to learn how to use customer success to enhance your entire company.
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