If you are a Customer Success Manager walking down the path of establishing a continued strong relationship with your clients, there are some activities that you should pay attention to. Demonstrating value for the clients is one of the most important roles a Customer Success Manager must perform effectively. The Quarterly Business Review is one of the most significant activities a Customer Success Manager must perform to offer value to their clients.
What is a Quarterly Business Review?
A Quarterly Business Review or QBR is a discussion meeting that you have with your clients on a quarterly basis. The focal point of the Quarterly Business Meeting revolves around the business of your clients, and what can be done to escalate the growth of the business. It aims to understand the desired outcomes and potentials of the business. Making recommendations accordingly based on the understanding of the desired outcomes of the business. As a Customer Success Manager, you will act as a business advisor to the clients and customers in guiding them toward success. In this blog read as Chad Horenfeldt, Director of Customer Success at Kustomer discusses in-depth Quarterly Business Review (QBRs) Best practices and ways to drive more value for clients from a Customer Success perspective.
Establishing a QBR Agenda
During the business review, you may be wondering what kind of things should you really talk about? What is the stuff you need to include in the business review? Conducting a business review needs a lot of preparation, from setting the schedule to sending invitations to the attendees, there are several important details that you should look into. One of which is setting an agenda for the business review. It is very important to set an agenda for the Quarterly Business Review in order to have a smooth and fruitful meeting. Even before the Quarterly Business Review, your specific goals and path of achieving those should already be set. Coming to a business review unprepared is a waste of your customer’s time. Being prepared will add value to clients’ business and it will allow you to better showcase your product and services.
In the past, Quarterly Business Review represents a Performance Review, a time where employees sit down and give feedback to the clients and discuss issues regarding the products and services they are using. How well they are performing, what are the issues they have encountered along the way? There are many different channels or meetings wherein you can discuss and provide that information.
In today’s new Quarterly Business Review practices, it should be strategic, not tactical, stay away from discussions about issues, tackling issues during Quarterly Business Review may not be helpful and can drag the meeting down in a negative way. The QBR is not the right time and place to discuss support questions. This is an opportunity for Customer Success Managers to dive deep into gaining a better understanding of what the customers’ business and planning ahead for future strategies that will help the customers achieve their goals.
The purpose of a QBR is to bridge the gap between the clients and the product or service that they purchased from your company, it should be thought-provoking and challenging. In establishing your agenda you need to put in mind what the customer wants and their desired outcomes through this you can determine what to include in the business review.
Setting your Quarterly Business Review Agenda
- Identify the end goals- What are the end goals of the business? It is very important that the end goals are being identified in order for the clients to have a clear vision of where the business is heading. What are the necessary actions they need to do in order to achieve that end goal?
- Highlight the Achieved vs. End Goals- Highlight the achieved goals during the business reviews and compare them to the end goals. Use statistics and facts in showing the results that have been achieved. This is for the customer to see the milestone that we have accomplished and to clearly see if we are heading to the path towards success in achieving the end goals.
- Provide Suggestions- Once the achieved goals are being highlighted and compared to the end goals, suggestions in building the gap between the achieved goals and end goals should be provided. How are we going to achieve the end goals, lay down the action plans to achieve the end goals?
Once these agendas are set ensure that the meeting attendees are prepared to meet. This will minimize any chances of a derailed meeting.
Who should be attending?
In the Quarterly Business Review are attendees by both executives on both sides of the attendance, executives from your side, and the customers. In today’s new practice the Quarterly Business Review attendees depend on your product and how large the client is. For larger clients you can have different types of business reviews, One QBR component includes executives at a higher level, and other components dealing with more tactical aspects. Different types of business reviews require different types of attendees.
For larger clients:
- Have the person directly involved in the decision making process present during the business review for these are the people who play a big role that can decide for the company.
- Front-load all the executive items, during QBRs you need to ensure to load the executive items beforehand to avoid derailing at the time of the meeting.
- Make sure to have summary and value points that cover the important details of the presentation. This gives the executive a heads up of the meeting and keeps their interest.
- Communicate with customers during the business review presentation, always keep in mind that your presentation is for the customer.
How long does the Quarterly Business Review typically take?
The Quarterly Business Review typically takes depending on how large your client is. It can be 2 days or a multi-day session depending on the type and size of the business the client has. Having a large client with a large type of business has a lot of things to cover and discuss during the business review that can’t be covered for an hour or two. For regular-sized clients, Quarterly Business Reviews typically are done in an hour or two.
In the past Quarterly Business Reviews are presented in a very structured type of presentation that starts with an executive summary focusing on what you’ve done to achieve the desired goals.
Ways to Present Quarterly Business Review
- It typically starts with providing value based on what you are trying to achieve or your desired outcomes.
- Give additional points about where the product or service is going, it’s the current status.
- Discuss the presentation, present the data, and have an interactive flow of discussion with the customers.
- Follow up, and demonstrate your plan to help the client achieve their goals.
- Recommendations, at the end of the presentation a crafted plan of solutions should be presented to the audience. How is the plan or solutions that you have come up with build the gap in achieving the customer’s goals for their business?
The Customer Success way
- Observe on-site product process – The product usage, watch closely how the clients are using their products. What Does usage Look like along the trends? The features being used and which aren’t. Through this, you can personally observe if they are using the product effectively. Which part of the process do they fail to execute and need training or coaching?
- Identify ways to improve the process- from observing how they used their products we can identify how to improve the process on how they can effectively use the product. Through the data gathered from the observation stage, Customer Success teams can formulate action plans on how they can improve the process in effectively maximizing the use of their product.
- Data Poll Process- An automated data poll process showing the areas where they are doing well and the areas that need improvement.
These are the outcomes we learned from the implementation phase.
We can use these as benchmark data in showing the clients how they are performing against others. Where they are falling short in the process. Through this, they can clearly see their status against others, and their competition and immediately know what they lack that the others have or what advantages they have from others as well.
This is how the Quarterly Business Review evolved using automated data and many to one approach. By using automated data in QBRs in this way we can shorten the business review process.
How often do we conduct a Business Review?
The name Quarterly Business Review implies quarterly or 4 times a year, but how often do we really need to conduct a business review? Do we really need to do this on a quarterly basis as a part of your engagement model? Conducting the business reviews depends on situations where you don’t have visibility usage data or you don’t have the necessary tools to monitor your clients on how well they are performing, if this is the case then you need to have frequent business reviews and to personally discuss their business and how you can support them. You don’t have to do this on a quarterly basis.
The Quarterly Business Reviews is one way to know if their client is doing well or not if we don’t have other ways to monitor the clients that can determine the cadence. In Customer Success Organization they make the decision in giving the cadence based on client segmentation. Segmenting your customers based on how critical their status. QBRs are likely reserved for clients who are most critical, these are the customers who need special attention from the CS teams to level up their business towards success. There are healthy clients that don’t really in need of a business review, just because QBR is part of your engagement model you don’t need to do it on a quarterly basis if it doesn’t work with your clients then don’t push it, for you will be wasting time, time that should be the focus on clients that badly needed it the most.
There is always that urge from clients and customers to know what’s next with their journey with you. Quarterly Business reviews make customers feel that they are being valued by keeping them well-informed of the status and products that they are using. Conducting QBRs confirms that you are the perfect partner for them who always thinks ahead in keeping them on the right track. A partner who always prepares a plan to help them innovate and reach their desired outcomes.
As Customer Success Managers, do the extra mile you need to make sure that you offer additional ways to interact with clients not just rely solely upon business reviews so that you can better understand how the customer is doing and offer value so that you don’t have to do it on a quarterly basis. Business reviews are not just the only way to reach out to your clients and make them feel valued. You can always call and check the status of clients and schedule a sit-down or Zoom meeting to discuss ways and strategies to improve and develop their business. Don’t just stop after having them sign a purchase or a subscription agreement, your role as a CSM does not stop there, you are on the same journey together toward success.
Create a cadence for your strategic customers and your high-touch customers in a manner that aligns with what the customers desire their experience to be like. Don’t push QBR just because it’s a requirement or part of your engagement model to do it on a quarterly basis, if it doesn’t work with the client, then don’t conduct a QBR for that certain client. Always look at the bigger picture and assess the situations and the status of your clients to clearly identify what they really need to achieve their goals and desired outcomes for their business.
How can CSM Practice Help!
Do you need help creating an effective QBR for different types of customer accounts in your company? Please contact us at CSM Practice to increase your profitability and level up your business toward success!