The Essential Guide to Quarterly Business Reviews
In this day and age, data—and the technology that generates and analyzes it—is crucial to monitoring and fostering Customer Success. But to get the most out of that technology, you must use it to build real, human relationships with your customers. After all, all the data in the world cannot replace the impact of a face-to-face interaction—and that is especially true when it comes to your most valuable customers. That’s where quarterly business reviews (QBRs) come into the picture. Wondering how to incorporate QBRs into your Customer Success program? Let this page be your guide to all things QBR.
What is a quarterly business review (QBR)?
Also known as a business review or an executive business review, a quarterly business review is “a meeting with your client on a quarterly basis where you discuss their business and how you can support them,” explains this article. This meeting should be strategic—rather than tactical—in nature. This is not the time or place to talk about support questions or make plans for additional trainings. Rather, this is a chance for you to gain a deeper understanding of the customer’s business and future plans, and to strategize as to how you can deliver more value based on those factors. In doing so, you’ll step out of a “vendor” role and into more of a “business advisor” one. This helps build trust, which in turn solidifies your relationship with the customer.
Who should participate in a QBR?While your Customer Success Managers likely will be responsible for facilitating these meetings, QBRs are typically most effective when executives from both sides—yours and your customer’s—are present. That way, both companies can better assess how they fit into each other’s business plans and objectives. On that note, remember that as you grow, it probably won’t be feasible for you to schedule QBRs with every single one of your customers. So, focus on conducting QBRs with your top accounts—the ones most critical to your continued success. This is where customer segmentation comes in handy. As noted here, “QBRs will likely be reserved for only the top segment of your customer base. These are the customers who need, and deserve, the special attention from you and from your company.”
How often should QBRs occur?If you take the name of the meeting literally, you would conduct one QBR per quarter, or four per year. However, that frequency might not be necessary for every one of your customers. The main idea is to conduct the meetings consistently so you can review the data from a set time period, and the business quarter is seemingly the most natural time period to use for such a review.
Why should my company conduct QBRs?In the early stages of growth, you’ll probably interact with your customers fairly regularly. And because you likely have fewer customers than larger, more established companies, it’s easier to maintain individual relationships with each one. As your company grows larger, however, those relationships become more difficult to sustain. To ensure your relationship-building efforts don’t fall by the wayside, you may need to take a more structured approach. One highly effective way to do that is to schedule QBRs with your top customers (or your top tiers of customers, as described above). When done right, QBRs can be beneficial to both parties. Specifically, these meetings can:
- Strengthen the partnership between your business and your customer’s.
- Foster relationships between your executives and your customer’s executives.
- Allow you the opportunity to highlight the ROI of your product, thus reinforcing your value to the customer.
- Open up honest discussions around your customers’ overall health and what you can do to maintain and improve that status.
- Eliminate the question of whether your customer will renew once the contract or subscription expires.
- Demonstrate to your customer that you’re serious about providing ROI, and that you expect to do so within a 90-day period.
What should the content of a QBR include?All too often, QBRs fall into the bucket of things management implements without a plan or a purpose. But if you go into a QBR without a real goal, then you’re wasting everyone’s time—and that does nothing in the way of bolstering your customer’s perception of your product and your company. This is not just another meeting for you and your customer to shoot the breeze; for your QBR to be successful, it must follow some type of structure. With that in mind, here are some of the basic guidelines for conducting a QBR, as adapted from this article:
- Create an agenda and make sure all attending parties receive it well ahead of the meeting time. This will help prevent the meeting from derailing. It also will give your customer a good idea of when it would be appropriate to bring up various questions, concerns, or points of discussion.
- Emphasize ROI. To do that, ask yourself: Why did your customer purchase your product in the first place, and over the last quarter (or so), how well have you fulfilled that need? Present numbers and data points that demonstrate the value you have delivered in that time period.
- Present benchmarking data. Companies love to see how well they’re doing in comparison to their competitors, and if you can tie that success to your product, they’ll be much more likely to continue doing business with you.
- Lock in solid goals for the next quarter (or until your next QBR). In some cases, this might be a good time to bring up expansion opportunities (i.e., show the customer other products/add-ons that will help his or her company achieve whatever goals you set forth).
- Provide customer health data in the form of a Customer Health Index (CHI). Wondering how to do that? Read on.
Calculating the Customer Health IndexAs explained here, a CHI “…is a single score, usually from 1-100, which indicates a percentage of perfection.” Of course, there’s really no such thing as a perfect customer, so you should never assign a CHI of 100. But, how do you land on the appropriate percentage? Well, the more objectively you arrive at your CHI, the better. 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 how you arrived at that figure. Here are some concrete factors to consider:
- Depth of product usage (i.e., how much of your product the customer uses). If your company offers multiple products, how many of them does the customer use?
- Breadth of product usage (i.e., how much of the customer’s company uses your product). Does the company have multiple departments/functions? Do they all use your product? If not, should/could they be using your product?
- Engagement. How often does the customer interact with you, and in what ways? Does the customer promote or advocate for you?
- Growth. What was the value of this customer when the customer first started doing business with you? How much has that value grown?
- Survey scores (e.g., NPS).
- Support usage. If the customer has submitted a large number of tickets, the customer could be growing frustrated with your product. But, if the customer hasn’t submitted any tickets at all, it could be a sign that the customer isn’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 of commitment 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 (i.e., the length of time the customer has been a customer of your company). If a customer has been with you for a long time, it’s a sign of satisfaction. Thus, the customer is more likely to stay with you for the foreseeable future.
Avoiding Common QBR PitfallsOkay, now that you know what you should cover during your QBRs, let’s talk about some general no-nos:
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t let the meeting go longer than an hour.
- 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.