The Ultimate Quarterly Business Review (QBR) Playbook for Customer Success Teams

What is a QBR?


A Quarterly Business Review (QBR), also known as a Business Review or an Executive Business Review is a once-a-quarter meeting arranged by a Customer Success Manager to discuss the outcomes of efforts to date and the potential value of taking on a new business initiative.


A business review—typically attended by customer success managers, account managers, daily points of contact, department heads, and a department head—is an opportunity to review business developments and track key performance indicators throughout the quarter. From there, businesses can improve their internal team alignment and decide what changes and adjustments need to be made for the upcoming quarter. 


What makes for a successful QBR?

A successful QBR will depend largely on the size of the software purchased. The larger the price point the more detailed the QBR will need to be. Depending on how mission-critical the purchase is for the customer, there will sometimes be executive-level oversight and resources needed to approve data capture to prove out the ROI of a specific piece of software.

While QBRs do come in all shapes and sizes, for the most part, they will include the following:

- Review of core objectives the customer set in the past

- Celebrate progress toward those outcomes

- Illustrate examples of potential value yet to be realized

- Chart a path forward and ask questions to measure the alignment of these recommendations to existing internal business initiatives

If you’re on a customer success team, your view of a successful QBR might be a little different. While you’ll likely cover the above bullet points, the real determination of success is how satisfied the client is with your software, team, etc. so far.



How to prepare for a QBR?

Planning is vital to a QBR’s success. 

Before the QBR, you’ll want to collect key metrics from usage data, review notes on your customer’s original business objectives, gather screenshots and samples of successful use cases, and draft questions that prompt thinking about future business needs.

Crafting a thoughtful template deck will ensure you hit all the essential points and build your confidence narrating to an executive audience. Not sure where to begin?

Hivewire can help auto-trigger QBR prep templates so that Customer Success Managers can operate from a proactive place rather than a reactive one. 


What’s the cost of an inefficient QBR?

QBRs have an immense potential to increase a businesses’ success. All the key factors are there: the team, the data, and the desire to improve for the next quarter.

However, despite their potential, QBRs are often seen as mandatory, long, droll meetings. 

This perspective can prove costly. Even more costly is a QBR that leaves clients feeling unsatisfied and unfulfilled. Quite simply, it’s a missed opportunity. QBRs are expensive, often taking days to complete. They’re also, at times, emotionally charged - especially during difficult times when clients don’t see the ROI they desire. 

Not maximizing them - hosting unimpressive meetings that do little to excite your customers about the future - could lead to them moving their business elsewhere, or worse. It could lead to them leaving the meeting, getting on phone calls, and tarnishing your reputation. 

On the flip-side, a successful QBR can increase your reputation as an organized, efficient, and client-focused company, leading to client generation. 



Recurring revenue and customer retention

Since you’re meeting with an existing customer, you’ll do a business review to illustrate how you achieved their previously set business goals and outcomes. While doing this, make sure to focus on the bigger picture instead of smaller implementation challenges. 

Upsell

If this is a new project or account and your first review meeting after the initial sale and implementation of a product or service, you can now show actual results rather than forecasts. Your customer purchased with the intent to see results and the QBR is a formal opportunity to ensure all the appropriate stakeholders at your customer's organization are aware of the effort and results of implementation. Depending on how well the project went, you can use this data to upsell your customer and/or implement a more aggressive strategy. 

Become familiar with any other key performance indicators that are important to your client that can help gauge your business success with more accuracy. 

Business models that benefit from a QBR

Many businesses, but not all, can benefit from quarterly business reviews. It is not practical for all business models. For example, a B2C relationship would not benefit as much as B2B from a quarterly check-in, since the business when selling directly to a consumer is fast-moving and your customer’s needs are short-term. 

B2C: Business to Consumer 

B2C or Business to Consumer is a sales model where products and services are sold directly to the end-user. For example, let’s say you create personalized party decorations. After you sell them on your ecommerce store, it wouldn’t make sense for you to check in with your customer after 90 days and review the business. 

Similarly, if you build websites for businesses or sell software tools that help build websites, the 90 day period would be too long of a period to wait for a check-in. Fast-moving enterprises require weekly monitoring. It is essential that you guide and educate your customer throughout, so that they know how to use your product. That way you can address technology adoption issues early, and ensure recurring business from your customer. 

B2B: Business to Business

In large corporations where you’re mostly serving other businesses, a successful QBR is essential to keep your biggest clients happy, and show all the progress that has been made. It’s one of the best ways to ensure that your customers won’t go looking for greener pastures or be persuaded by competitors to do business elsewhere. 

 

Who uses QBRs?

A customer success QBR is focused on ensuring stakeholders who are involved in the buying process are aware of both the realized and potential value of adopting your product to solve business problems.Once you’ve acquired your customers and have implemented your product or service, nurturing that customer relationship is crucial. 

In a startup environment, you might have the capacity to keep up with your limited customer base with weekly or monthly check-ins, but as the business grows, keeping track of your customers’ needs and your activity on their accounts might become challenging. In cases where conversation with customers is infrequent, an ongoing business review deck can help build mutual understanding of how needs have evolved overtime and what you and the customer are accountable to improve in the future. 


Value and Benefits of a QBR

Apart from providing clear business objectives, quarterly reviews will help you: 

Foster relationships

In our fast-paced business environments, where time is money, it is often hard to allocate time to get to know your customer and develop trust. It might seem secondary at first, but a strong relationship is worth gold in a competitive marketplace, especially when other vendors are vying for your client’s attention with promotions and underpriced offers that begin a race to the bottom. 

Highlight the ROI of your product

A review meeting creates an opportunity to highlight the ROI of your product or service - and to remind your customer why they chose to work with you. Having just reviewed the industry data also helps put things into perspective when you show clients their numbers. Having that benchmark will help them understand their last quarter’s performance - compared to the competition. It will also assist them in making informed decisions about realignment and changes for the next quarter. 

Facilitate honest discussions to troubleshoot minor issues

A QBR puts into plain view any challenges from the past quarter, creating an opportunity for an honest discussion to troubleshoot minor issues and talk about future strategy.  

Retain customers 

Establishing regular meetings with customers from the beginning shows them you are on top of their progress and can address issues quickly. If there is a low product adoption rate for example, you’ll see that the client onboarding process can be improved, allowing you to make changes accordingly. You work more closely with your customers so that there is no question as to whether they will renew their contract or take business elsewhere.

How to approach a QBR

SMART goals

You have limited time to make your case during a QBR, so it’s important to be specific and not leave much room for misinterpretation. For this reason, most executives follow the SMART goals model.

Make your SMART goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. During a quarterly review meeting, a customer success manager aims to illuminate a gap in the customer’s knowledge and offer thought-provoking questions that move the conversation forward. It’s similar to the approach taken during the initial sale when you are advising the customer on how to grow their business using your product or service. 

Stay out of the weeds

A QBR is not the place for a technical deep dive. Address business issues that impact measures of value and return on investment. Make sure your chosen metrics are relevant and specific to keep the conversation on track. 


Stay Organized

Hivewire is a flexible no-code platform built with a specific purpose in mind: to help onboarding and implementation teams reach their goals with greater ease.

It allows you to automate and simplify repetitive tasks as well as create custom views for different personas. The most important value proposition is their ability to scale, which is exactly what you’ll need when your business starts growing. Keep track of your progress and your customers’ success with a platform that keeps you all on the same page.

Hivewire has created a tool that you can easily customize to do exactly what you want, and just that. It’s a flexible tool to simplify tasks for onboarding teams, implementation teams and even sales operations, to name a few. To start creating custom health scores for your customers and track their progress from a single view, request a demo today.