Connecting regularly with your customers is key to developing successful business relationships. Paying close attention to how customers perceive your business and its ability to add value ensures that your customer success managers (CSMs) are doing their job properly.
You may think of a Quarterly Business Review as something that sales and management teams use to analyze whether goals have been reached for the previous quarter and plan for the next, but they have now been slowly adopted by customer success teams to check in with their customers and evaluate satisfaction.
1. What is a Quarterly Business Review (QBR)?
QBRs with customers are the responsibility of customer success and involve regularly checking in with customers to gauge their satisfaction with the product, usually on a quarterly basis. Depending on your type of SaaS product, you might want to schedule more regular reviews to maintain an accurate evaluation of your customer’s health.
Why Have a QBR?
With QBRs, you can minimize churn and maximize the chance of customer retention. According to research, average churn in the SaaS industry is 5.6%, so if yours is lower than that then conditions in your business are ideal.
If you don’t check in regularly with customers then you might miss valuable opportunities to stimulate growth. QBRs are particularly important for high value customers who would represent a significant loss of profits for you if they churned.
What Makes a Great QBR?
A great QBR is one that puts the needs of the customer at the center of the meeting. The QBR is clearly planned and customers are kept informed of the agenda every step of the way. Instead of businesses being self-interested and promotional, they showcase each drop of value that the product provides and the role the product plays in helping customers achieve their goals.
Watch this video from Warwick Brown on improving your QBRs.
Why Are QBRs Important?
Customer success drives up to 50% of total business growth, so nurturing your existing customers is vital for SaaS profitability. Scheduling in regular QBRs means you can take the pulse of customers and resolve any problems before they result in the dreaded churn.
Brings you closer to your customers
Check-ins with customers means you are closer to understanding what makes them tick and shows that your business is invested in their success. QBRs are a far better approach than leaving customers to fend for themselves and assuming they are happy with your product.
Prevents customer churn
Customer issues can spiral out of control if they aren’t addressed early on and result in a loss of business for your SaaS companies. QBEs are an opportunity to obtain important feedback from customers, enabling you to resolve problems before they become the final nail in the coffin.
Demonstrates product value to customers
A QBR is a chance for you to showcase value, ensuring that customers understand how much your product has helped their business in the last quarter. This ensures customers are happy to keep paying your subscription fee, even if you need to raise it.
2. What are Different Types of QBRs?
There are several different types of QBRs you can conduct with your customers.
According to the Customer Lifecycle Stage
You can conduct a review with a customer depending on where they are in the customer lifecycle stage.
OBR: Onboarding Business Review
If your onboarding process is lengthy then you must conduct a QBR directly after a customer has been onboarded. As the first business review of the relationship with the customer, key members of the team will meet for the first time, including product champions, users, account managers, CSMs and so on.
Pre/Post Renewal Business Review
This QBR is scheduled for around the time of the customer’s renewal date, during which you will address all the concerns a customer may have about renewing with your product. Customers need to know how your product solves their problems for them.
Based on the Frequency
Monthly/Quarterly/Annual Business Review
Another type of QBR revolves around the frequency of when it is held. The needs of the individual customer determines how often the QBR is scheduled, with customers undergoing major projects possibly requiring monthly QBRs with your team, for example.
Based on the People
EBR: Executive Business Review
QBRs are set depending on who you want to be present during the meeting, most particularly focusing on the sponsor from the customer’s side of the relationship.
3.Who and for Whom Should QBRs be Made?
QBRs are understandably resource-intensive, and you must be sensible about who you invite to a QBR. Not every customer needs QBRs to have satisfying relationships with your business – they don’t expect one and your business would be over-reaching if they provided one.
Your most valuable customers should be the targets of your QBRs – those customers who would represent significant loss of profits if they did churn. You need to wisely allocate your resources when it comes to QBRs, and certain customers are worth more ROI than others.
Customers with the potential for growth
There are other customers who have the potential for cross-sells or upsells and these make good candidates for QBRs. Regular QBRs allow you to identify opportunities for growth and enable you to support these customers on the path to success with your product.
Who should be invited for the QBRs?
There are a few key parties you should invite to every QBR to maximize success:
- Product champion
- Product sponsor
- Primary user
- System admin
- Account Manager
- Customer Success Manager
- Head of Customer Success
Who Should Deliver the QBR?
Usually the Customer Success Manager prepares the QBR and the Account Manager presents the QBR to the customer.
4. Success Metrics for QBRs
Here are a few common metrics used when measuring the success of your QBRs:
- Completed actions – have action points from the last QBR been completed and how successful were they?
- Number of attendees – of everyone who was invited to the QBR, how many people actually attended the meeting?
- New objectives – what new objectives for the customer have been decided in the most recent QBR, who is responsible and when will they be achieved by?
5. How to Execute QBR as a Strategy
Follow these steps to implement successful QBRs in your SaaS company:
- Be mindful of the subscription model. Customers work in cycles, and your QBR should complement the natural ebb and flow of customer engagement. Make sure your QBR reflects patterns of customer behavior such as being scheduled alongside reviews and onboarding.
- Focus on showcasing value. QBRs are no good if they are simply a platform for your company to promote its own priorities. Focusing on value means you are sensitive to the needs of the customer and how your product can help them. The QBR is a time to reinforce the usefulness of your product.
- Aim for consistency. When customers know to expect the QBRs, they can be ready for them and bring helpful input. They understand it to be part of your business’s customer success strategy and make more time to be receptive to your message.
- Emphasize QBRs to your CSMs. The team members who are responsible for leading the QBRs should understand the importance of regularly connecting with key customers in a dedicated meeting.
- Plan in advance if you want it to go well. We’ll show you how to prepare for a QBR starting one month before the actual meeting takes place, so you can gather resources and share ideas which will be more effective in helping customers.
6. How to Prepare for a QBR
One Month Out – Send Out a Call for Note-taking
You’ll need to start preparing in advance for your QBR. First of all, it’s helpful to create a notes spreadsheet that you can share with anyone from your team who should be attending the presentation. This spreadsheet includes key learnings from the previous quarter and action tasks for the next quarter which will be important to the customer.
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Three Weeks Out – Host a Brainstorming Session & Designate Individual Slides
Once you have your spreadsheet prepared you can ask each member of your team to present their ideas in a brainstorming session. The idea of the session is to generate new ideas which will be useful to the customer and identify areas for improvement. Each slide for your presentation deck will be designated to a member of the team to prepare for the QBR.
Two Weeks Out – Decide a Time to Create Slides and Rehearse Presentation
Make sure each member of your team submits their slides two weeks before the QBR and come together to rehearse the presentation before the real meeting. This will give you a chance to iron out bugs and gather feedback from executives on the final material in the presentation.
One to two Days Before the QBR – Share Your Slide Deck with the Customer Ahead of Time
SaaS companies who want to make a lasting impression on their customers will make sure they preemptively share their presentation before the meeting. Customers can ask clarifying questions and make sure you cover all the important topics.
An hour and a half is usually enough time for the QBR, with the first hour dedicated to the presentation and the last half hour for follow up questions. Setting a definite time for the QBR ensures you stay within scope, respect the customer’s time, and increase the likelihood they will attend the meeting.
7. A few final thoughts on the QBR
You’ll definitely want to implement a QBR if a customer’s health score falls below a certain level, which you can track automatically using customer success software such as Churn360. Based on specific data points such as product usage, the health score indicates to your CSMs that a customer is in need of attention. There’s no need to manually monitor your customers.
Check in regularly with your customers to make sure they are not thinking about switching to another product, and if they are you can step in to convince them that your software is still the right choice. QBRs are a fantastic opportunity to stay in touch with your customers, assure them your product is developing in their favor and assist with any problems.
CSMs and other customer-facing team members should be convinced of the importance of the QBR, which must happen regularly and be attended by all relevant parties in order to have the full impact.