What is a QBR?
A QBR (or Quarterly Business Review) is a once-per-quarter (ideally) meeting with your customer, to discuss their business and how you can support them. Its goal is to verify that the customer is getting as much value as he or she could from your product and prove its ROI.
The QBR aims at gaining a deeper understanding of the customer’s business and future needs, in order to strategize as to how you can deliver them more value. Therefore, the QBR is one of the strongest tools for the Customer Success Manager to build trust and solidify the relationship with the customer.
Why are QBRs important
Monitoring customer usage alone will not tell you whether your customers are really gaining value from your product or service. Or if they are closer to achieving their goals. Nor will adding new users or buying new options.
If you want to do Customer Success at a deep level, you need to access data from across your customer’s business in order to see how your solution is helping (or not). This is the whole purpose of QBRs.
8 Do’s and Don’ts of QBRs
✅ Do: Invite executives
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. This way, both companies can better assess how they fit into each other’s business plans and objectives in the short and long term.
⛔ Don’t: Stay at a tactical level
QBRs are not the time or place to talk about support questions or make plans for additional training — especially if you managed to get executives on board. To avoid dealing with unessential questions during the QBR, make sure you take the time to uncover them (and deal with them) before the meeting.
✅ Do: Raise to a strategic level
Instead of talking about the latest support ticket or product feature requests, QBRs must focus on long term collaboration. They are the perfect occasion to set achievable and measurable goals (using the SMART methodology), that you’ll be able to revisit at each following meeting.
By setting goals, you give your customers the opportunity to analyze and define the degree of success for each goal. Tangible objectives are the best way to prove that the partnership is moving in the right direction.
⛔ Don’t: Make a monologue
QBRs are about the Customer, not about You. The QBR shouldn’t be about you talking to your customer but letting the customer do (almost) all the talking. Don’t spend the whole meeting presenting metrics and product roadmaps. Instead, you can ask questions like:
- Why did you originally buy our solution?
- Are we providing the same value to you that we used to?
- What goals have we helped you achieve?
- What should we start/stop/continue doing?
- What feedback do you have on our previous QBRs?
- How can we add even more value to your business for next quarter?
✅ Do: Plan with your client
If you want to make your customer won’t get stuck on tactical issues and will really take part in the QBR, you need to get him•her on board beforehand. Identify your “champion” — usually the one you talk to throughout the year to unlock options or renew the contract — and prepare the QBR with him•her. Together, you can determine an ROI that you both agree on, pre-identify goals you’re comfortable with, and discuss additional phases of the implementation. Preparation will help you keep the meeting on track.
⛔ Don’t: Fall silent on problems
Executives won’t fall for bullshit. You cannot avoid issues or shove challenges under the rug. Being scared to uncover problems during the QBR will just keep the conversation superficial and limit you in the future. Instead, by listening to your client’s issues, you can first show them how truly dedicated you are, and then try to find a solution together. Win-win!
✅ Do: Follow up after the QBR
Post-QBR actions are more critical than the meeting itself. You need to show that you do meet your commitments. And to prove it, don’t leave the meeting without scheduling the next QBR when you will deliver measure the results of actions you defined together.
⛔ Don’t: Skip QBRs
QBRs are critical to Customer Success, and can’t be skipped. The greatest mistake is ignoring this key relationship building ritual.
Having that in mind, as your business grows, you may not have the time, staff and resources to set up a QBR for each customer every quarter. QBRs are high-touch events. You can dedicate your more frequent QBRs for your top tier segment of customers, and lower the frequency for your middle tiers.
All-in-all, QBRs are tremendous opportunities to strengthen your relationship with your customer. If done properly, it can make a true impact on your business. Most customers actually want to be great customers. They want to make the most of your product for their own success and are excited to be part of the innovation you are working on. Don’t miss this opportunity!