This is a topic that always gets a lot of attention when I talk about it. Invariably, when I mention the phrase “Quarterly Business Review (QBR)”, I’ll get requests for a QBR template or get asked a number of questions. It’s a classic case of something that sounds really good and often gets mandated by management, but is not always done in a consistent or purposeful way.
First of all, to answer the question in the title, I think there is real value in doing these, assuming, of course, that they are done well and with a clear purpose. If they are simply another conversation with a customer asking them how they are doing, then please don’t waste your time or theirs.
Before I go on, I’ll just mention that we’ve recently renamed our QBRs to EBRs. That stands for Executive Business Reviews. We do them quarterly but changed the name because we really truly want the executive sponsor at the customer to participate in the meeting and the process. It’s a subtle change but it helps.
How about if we start with some do’s and don’ts:
- Get the executive sponsor at the customer to attend and participate
- Make sure an executive on your side is involved, too, since you’ve asked your customer to do the same
- Have a clear agenda communicated well ahead of time
- Review the EBR with your customer champion before the actual meeting
- Focus on ROI
- Benchmark them against other customers (they love this)
- Show them their CHI (Customer Health Index)
- Set very clear goals for the next 90 days
- Rinse and repeat
- Talk about detailed issues if you can avoid it
- Be defensive if they bring up challenges you’ve had
- Be afraid to ask for feedback, both positive and negative
- Make it more than an hour
- Forget to schedule the next one before you leave
- Wait 90 days to do the first one – do it right after they go live
I love the idea of doing the first EBR right after the customer goes live. It establishes the precedent of doing these regularly and sets the stage for their purpose and frequency. Most importantly, it shows the customer, right from the start, that you expect them to get a clear return on their investment and that you want to assess that every 90 days. The first review is the time to set this process in motion. Don’t leave until there’s a reiteration of their buying criteria (you should already know) and how they plan to measure the return on this investment.
Obviously, if this is well understood and actively measured, you will have a scorecard showing how well you are doing. If your customers are on annual contracts, you’ll have four report cards showing your ROI to them, which should make the renewal a non-event. If you can’t come up with a way to measure, or at least proxy, ROI for your product(s), please contact me as I know of lots of great companies looking for Customer Success people.
“What is this CHI you speak of?” (Seinfeld reference). You should find a way to assign a health score to every single customer (or at least your top tiers). This exercise is extremely valuable and enlightening. A CHI is a single score, usually from 1-100, which indicates a percentage of perfection. The perfect customer will score 100. By the way, there are no perfect customers.
It’s certainly possible to just meditate on a given customer and decide subjectively, what their CHI is. A better process is to come up with the components of an overall health score, score each of those components, and then weight the components to create the overall score. A few components to consider which probably apply in almost every situation:
- Product usage (depth) – how much of your product do they use?
- Product usage (breadth) – how many organizations use it?
- Relationship – how high up are you with them and how much do they love you?
- Marketing Participation – do they do references, speaking engagements, talk to the press, etc. on your behalf?
- Growth – what is their current contract value vs. their initial contract value?
- Survey scores
- Support tickets – too many, not enough, or just right?
- Product feedback – are they partnering with you on your product?
- Length of time they’ve been a customer – the longer they are a customer, the more likely they are to stay a customer?
One way to look at this process is to break the components out into two groups:
- How valuable is your product to this customer (usage depth, usage breadth, surveys, etc.)?
- How valuable is this customer to you (marketing participation, growth, product feedback, etc.)?
The bottom line is this – QBR/EBRs are very important. As you grow your customer base, it’s likely that you’ll have to stratify your customers and perhaps do QBRs only with the top tier, or top two tiers. If done well, the QBR process will yield some significant benefits:
- Enhance your partnership with your customers
- Engage executives on both sides on a regular basis
- Reinforce the ROI of your product with each customer
- Enable healthy conversations around your assessment of each customer’s overall health
- Turn the renewal into a non-event
Enjoy the process. It can be fun if you are well prepared. If not, that’s on you. If you’d like to experience a world-class QBR for yourself, just become a customer and we’ll show you exactly how to do it. :)