What are Quarterly Business Reviews?
Quarterly Business Reviews (QBR) have been around for a long time. It was used by the sales and management teams to check whether the agreed goals for the last quarter were achieved and to plan for the next quarter. This approach has been adopted by the customer success teams as a checkpoint to engage with the customers to find out whether customers are satisfied with the product.
Agenda for QBR
The QBRs for SaaS companies’ customer success teams typically cover the below areas:
- How has the customer been using the product?
- Have the business objectives identified from the Customer during onboarding been met?
- Have all the support tickets raised by the Customer been resolved within the SLA’s
- Introduction to any new features that may be of interest for the Customer
- If Customer has any challenges, agree a plan to help them through it and review it
- Any review, case study opportunity exploration
- Any upsell/Cross-sell opportunity exploration
Remember that this call is all about the customer and ensuring that they are achieving the goals they targeted to reach using your product. But that does not mean that we let go of a cross-sell or up-sell opportunity (that should not be the primary focus of this call).
Benefits of a QBR
There are quite few benefits in having a QBR, we discuss about some here:
1. Ensuring Customer Goals are on track
Your customer bought your product with an objective in mind. If the customers objectives are not met or have changed, they will churn. So, it is particularly important to keep track of your customer goals and ensure they are on track and your product delivers what they bought it for. If your customers’ goals have changed, realign your success strategy with your customer and help them achieve their new goals.
2. Showing the customer the value they have got
Your customer, the key decision maker, should be part of your QBRs. Even though they might not be the person who uses your product the most, it is important for them to see how your product continues to help their company. Doing QBR with the customer is the chance to do just that.
Showing them metrics on how your product is being used and how much value they have gotten from it will ensure the customer stays informed and happy about your product.
3. Leveraging customer relationships
By speaking with your customers and getting to know them better you can build relationships that would help both the parties. You can learn more about the relevant problems that their business faces and include it in your product roadmap. Likewise, if they are happy with their CSM (Customer Success Manager) and your product they might be willing to provide customer reviews adding credibility to your product.
Also, these calls are a wonderful way to find out up-sell and cross-sell opportunities and grow your revenue from existing customers.
4. Identifying at risk customers
These review activities with clients provide leading indicators on whether your customer will churn and provide you with time to try and fix the issue before it is too late. For example, if the CSM’s notice that the usage is low, they can speak to the client and understand what can be done better to help them to get further value from the product. Maybe there is a feature that they have not used, or adoption is an issue. By identifying the exact problem, there is a chance to fix it.
Should QBR’s be quarterly?
Everything until now was on the benefits of a quarterly business review but should it really be a “quarterly” event?
With the way customer success portals have come about, QBR’s for SaaS seems like a very reactive way of managing customers. 3 months is a long time in SaaS, given the number of competitors around, the ease with which you can migrate between products.
So, the answer really depends on several factors, a few of them being:
- Nature of your product (self-service or complicated onboarding)
- Business criticality of your product
- Cost of your product
- Communication preferences of your typical customer
Depending on these factors and more, a customer review might be appropriate at a shorter or longer duration. But it still makes it a reactive model and your CSMs won’t know much until it’s time for the review.
So, what’s the solution?
Using technology in combination with business reviews is what businesses with the lowest churn rates are adopting to. This is where Customer Success Portals come into play. They turn the role of a CSM from being reactive to proactive. Customer Success Portals help by monitoring usage constantly, identifying trends and variations in them, monitoring support tickets and communications between the clients and your company. They even check financial data like delayed payments or expiring credit card information and using all this data form a score known as a Health Score for each customer.
The range of a health score can be tagged as poor, average or good depending on how you want it configured and when the health score drops alerts are raised to CSM’s. This acts as an early indicator to help the CSM take corrective action before its too late making customer success managers to be proactive.
Even though quarterly business reviews for customer success seems like a good model, the quarterly aspect of the review seems too rigid. The business review aspects of the QBR if taken along with the use of technology will yield the least possible churn. So, review your QBR’s, set up alerts and empower your CSM’s to engage with your customers at the right time for your customer whatever interval that might be.