Quarterly business reviews (QBRs) can enhance customer relationships and provide vital insights for improving your product. By taking care of your most important accounts, you can keep customers happier for longer and maximise revenue through renewals, upgrades and purchase frequency.
In this article, we cover everything you need to know about quarterly business reviews. We explain how they enhance your customer success strategy, what you need to include in them and how to start planning your first QBR today.
Table of contents:
What is a QBR?
Benefits of running QBRs
What should you include in a QBR?
How to conduct a QBR (Include Agenda in this part.)
How to prepare for a QBR
How to run a QBR
Tips for writing a quarterly business report
A QBR, or quarterly business review, is a meeting you hold with customers to discuss the value your product and/or services add to their business. As the name suggests, you run QBRs at the end of each quarter to review progress over the previous 90 days.
The primary goal of a QBR is to showcase the role you play in your customers’ success.
Effective quarterly business reviews keep customers excited about your product, help them achieve bigger things and provide you with valuable insights for improving customer experiences.
Unlike annual business reviews, QBRs establish regular touchpoints with your most important customers, allowing you to show how your product drives success for their business from one quarter to the next.
We touched on several benefits of running QBRs in the previous section but let’s quickly summarise the key things you’ll gain from hosting quarterly business reviews with your most important customers:
Demonstrate value: Show customers how much value your product adds to their business.
Nurture relationships: Help customers get the best out of your product at each stage of the lifecycle.
Qualitative feedback: Hear users describe what they like and dislike about your product.
Improve your product: Make the most profitable product improvements by listening to the people who matter most.
Address customer issues: Deal with issues that could cause customers to churn.
Increase customer happiness: Keep your most important users happier for longer.
Motivate customers: Show customers how they can achieve more by using your product differently.
Increase renewals & upgrades: Maximise revenue by increasing renewals and upgrades from your top-spending accounts.
Essentially, quarterly business reviews enhance your customer success strategy by making customers more excited about your product. Firstly, you demonstrate the value it adds to their business and, secondly, you address the issues they raise that could otherwise lead to churn.
You should tailor every quarterly business review to the customer in question but each QBR wants to include the following:
Product usage review
Roadmap review (optional)
Targets for next quarter
This is where you discuss the wins and misses over the previous quarter. Focus on your customer’s goals and KPIs, using data reports to show how valuable actions in your product generate ROI for them.
For example, a productivity software provider might show how much money and time a customer has saved by automating specific tasks - and suggest other tasks they could automate.
Re-confirm your customer’s goals - including the relevant metrics and KPIs - and discuss any changes since the previous QBR. Customer priorities can change over time and market disruptions can force rapid responses so make sure you’re always up-to-date with their priorities.
Analyse the customer’s use of your product and how it’s helping them to achieve their goals. Focus on valuable actions and always relay back to ROI to demonstrate value. Show the actions and features they’re getting the most value from and any tools they’re underutilizing in your product that could help them do even better.
Use historical data to prove the ROI of your product and enhance this with forecasts showing how much more they could get by using your product more effectively.
Discuss any issues previously raised by the customer that hasn’t been resolved over the past quarter. Run through the current status of each issue and any impact on performance during the last 90 days. Agree on solutions and next steps for each issue and set expectations for the next quarter if they can’t be resolved in the next 90-day period.
You can also raise issues with the customer on their side, such as website performance or technical infrastructure issues preventing them from getting the best out of your product.
Allow the customer to explain what they feel is going well and what could improve. Encourage them to keep a log of feedback every quarter so they know what they want to discuss in the next QBR.
If they raise any new issues, you can tell them how to proceed - eg, replicating the problem and providing technical info to help you resolve it.
If your roadmap for the next quarter includes any updates or new features that could benefit the customer, now is a good time to show them. Likewise, you may want to mention anything further down the line on your roadmap that’s relevant to feedback or issues raised during the QBR meeting.
Your customers should leave QBR meetings knowing how your product added value to their business in the past quarter. You’ve shown them this with data visualizations and reports attributing actions in your software to ROI and other KPIs.
Now, you need to agree on realistic targets for the following quarter, based on data from the past quarter, as well as the projections and advice you’ve provided.
Now that you know what a QBR should include let’s talk about how to conduct them. We’re breaking this into two sections:
How to prepare a QBR
How to run a QBR
To prepare a quarterly business review effectively, you should cover the following steps:
Select the right customers
Choose your meeting software
Create your QBR agenda
Profile the customer
Compile your data
Prepare to answer hard questions
Raise any issues (optional)
Create a scoring system
Unless you’re an early-stage startup, you can’t run QBRs for every customer. Choose the most important accounts for priority personas and put the effort into building meaningful relationships from day one.
This way, they’ll be more likely to accept your invites to QBRs and you can get the most valuable insights from the accounts you really care about.
Meeting software has never been more important and the quality of tools has improved a lot over the past few years. Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams are some of the most popular names in meeting software, making it easier than ever to run remote QBRs.
Airgram brings advanced features to meetings in Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams.
That being said, managing remote QBRs manually still involves a lot of work. This is why we created Airgram to integrate with the most popular meeting software tools and remove manual workload with live transcription, meeting notes, recordings and planning tools.
Here’s a quick reminder of what one might look like in Airgram:
Earlier, we explained what to include in your QBR meetings but you’ll need to add a few more items to your agenda:
Meeting goal: Specify the purpose of your QBR meeting.
Introduction: Quickly introduce everyone attending the meeting.
Meeting summary: A quick preview of everything you’re going to cover in the meeting.
Agenda topics: A list of everything you intend to cover during the QBR.
Questions: Get the information you need from customers by asking the right questions - for example:
How confident are you about hitting your goals for the next quarter?
What are your biggest challenges for the next quarter?
Have you experienced any issues with our product over the past three months?
How happy have you been with our customer service since our last QBR?
How easy/difficult is it for new team members to learn and use the product?
How likely are you to renew at the end of your current subscription?
Time slots: Allocated durations for each topic in the meeting agenda.
Meeting recap: A summary of everything covered during the meeting.
Preliminary notes: The names of everyone attending and any other info attendees require.
Everyone on your team that’s attending the QBR should have a copy of the agenda in plenty of time and it’s a good idea to send a copy to the customer, excluding any sensitive information.
Each customer has unique needs and expectations of your product and services. They could be at different stages of the customer cycle, too, with varying levels of satisfaction. Some will also use your product more than others and show more likelihood of upgrading or renewing at the end of their current subscription period.
Profile each customer before holding a quarterly business review, analyze customer health scores and make sure everything in your agenda is 100% relevant to them.
Data should do most of the talking for you in QBR meetings. You want to prove the value of your product by attributing customer actions in your software to goal completions and KPIs. Analyse the sessions where customers are getting the most out of your product and show them how they can do this more often.
The challenge is crafting an engaging story with this data. Don’t bombard customers with numbers; create a narrative with data visualizations centered around their goals and KPIs.
Above all, QBRs should demonstrate the value of your product and motivate customers to continue investing in your services. This isn’t a sales pitch or a product demo, though. You have to focus on the needs of the customer, using data to show how your product is working for them and how they can do even better.
Celebrate the wins, acknowledge the losses and show customers how they can achieve more in the next quarter.
Some customers are going to ask difficult questions or make challenging statements during your QBRs. You need to be ready for this. If you’re profiling customers ahead of each QBR, you should have all of the information you need to deal with these.
Analyse customer relationships, assess how they’re using your product or thinking about your services and look into any issues they’ve raised in the past. Anticipate potential concerns and the kind of questions they’re going to raise during your meeting.
Don’t get caught out by surprise or dodge anything customers bring up. Be ready to turn any issue into an opportunity for them to get better value from your product - and show them how to do it.
If your customer has any issues on their end that prevent your product from maximizing value, this is the time to raise them. For example, they could have technical issues with their website (downtime, page speed, etc.) or lack someone required for a key role (eg, data analyst).
Raise such issues tactfully because you’re not looking to make excuses or shift the blame. Offer realistic solutions and, where possible, use data to show the improvements they could expect from following your advice.
The insights you get from your QBR meetings may reveal customers aren’t as happy as you think they are. To feed these insights into your customer health scores, you need a scoring system for analysing meetings.
Scoring qualitative feedback objectively is always difficult but you could simply label meetings as “positive” or “negative”. For something more advanced, you could analyse customer feedback and meeting notes for keywords relevant to your health scores.
With your QBR prepared, you’re ready to run your meeting by following these steps:
Know who to invite
Stick to the agenda
Focus on the customer’s goals & KPIs
Keep it conversational
Highlight wins & potential improvements
Keep meetings short & insightful
Automate what you can - but keep things personal
End the QBR with actionable next steps
Analyse your QBR meetings
Earlier, we talked about choosing the right customers for your quarterly business reviews. Now, you need to decide who you're going to invite from each company and your own team for each meeting.
Depending on the role your product plays, this could include stakeholders and executives or simply the relevant department leads who are using your product. As a general rule, whoever’s in charge of signing off renewals and upgrades with your product should be top of the list.
Make sure you stick to the agenda during your QBR meetings. Work through the items on your agenda, one by one, and keep the conversation relevant to each point. You’ve added time slots for each topic and it’s important to stay on schedule.
If anyone raises anything important that’s not on the agenda or any topics overrun, make a note and move on. You can arrange a separate discussion outside of the QBR with anyone who wants to talk about something else.
It’s also important to keep the discussion focused on the goals and KPIs of your customer. Earlier, we talked about profiling customers while planning each QBR and the importance of re-confirming goals and KPIs.
Show customers that you truly understand their needs by keeping everything relevant to their priorities.
QBR meetings are not presentations, so don’t do all the talking yourself. Give your customers plenty of opportunities to ask questions, raise concerns and provide feedback throughout the meeting - and allow time for this in your agenda.
As a general rule, everyone attending the meeting should have their chance to speak - otherwise, you have to question why you invited them.
Also, make sure you genuinely listen and make customers feel heard.
You have to prove to customers that your product adds significantly more value to their lives than the monthly subscription fees they’re paying.
This starts with highlighting the wins in every QBR to show your product consistently delivers. Next, you can ramp up the motivation by showing forecasts of even bigger wins if they use your product differently. Finally, you have to be honest about losses and issues customers raise but you can approach these as opportunities to get even better results.
Quarterly business reviews should inspire your customers to keep using your product and doing business with you. Keep meetings short, let the data do most of the talking for you and, if in doubt, stick to the agenda.
Planning and running QBR meetings is time-consuming so it’s important to automate as much as you can without losing the personal touch. Use templates for emails, agendas and reports but take the effort to add personal touches like customer logos and the names of people attending.
At the end of each QBR, agree on realistic targets for the next quarter and actionable next steps for both parties. Try to get customers to commit to following advice that will help them get better results from your product, such as using specific features more often or assigning someone to an important role.
Likewise, commit to realistic steps you can take to address customer concerns, such as looking into technical issues they’ve experienced or discussing feature requests.
Once the QBR is over, it’s time to analyse everything your customer had to say and decide whether anything in the meeting affects their customer health score. Ultimately, you want these customers to renew at the end of their current subscription period and, wherever possible, upgrade to more expensive plans.
Airgram helps you get these insights with meeting recordings, transcription and AI review features that automatically extract the most important info.
Giving each customer a quarterly business report as part of your QBR gives them a copy of the key points raised in your meeting. This allows them to go away, collect their thoughts and revisit the takeaways from your quarterly business reviews.
It also helps you reinforce the core messages of your meeting and the data points showcasing the value of your product.
Here are some tips to help you create more effective quarterly business reports.
The best QBR reports use data to prove the value of a product but numbers alone won’t excite your customers. You have to craft a compelling story with the data to keep them motivated. Even by following the most basic elements of storytelling (beginning, middle and end) you can start to build a compelling narrative.
Remind customers what life was like before your product (beginning), how much it has improved with your product (middle) and how bright the future looks together (happy ever after).
You can’t tell much of a story with spreadsheets but you can capture the imagination of customers by bringing your report to life with data visualisations.
With a single graph, you can show customers how much their KPIs have improved over the past 90 days compared to previous quarters - and what performance could look like in the next quarter if they follow your advice.
Creating reports for every QBR takes a lot of time so create branded templates to speed this process up. This also helps maintain consistency and you can also create templates for graphs and other data visualisations - for example, ROI graphs, monthly usage stats, etc.
Personalise each report to include the customer’s company name where relevant. Depending on how many people are going to receive your report, you may also include the names of the contacts you’re sending them to - as long as this isn’t going to exclude anyone.
Start each report with a table of contents and include an introduction summarising the key points and takeaways.
Wrap it up with recommendations & next steps
End the report with recommendations that will help your customer get even better results from your product. Refer back to any advice provided during the QBR and relevant data to back up your suggestions, especially any forecasts used to show potential performance.
Also, confirm the targets for the following quarter and any next steps agreed upon between both parties during the meeting.
Running effective quarterly business reviews drives growth for SaaS companies by enhancing customer relationships. Winning new customers only gets you so far if you’re not holding onto your most important accounts for as long as possible and maximising customer value.
Here’s a quick summary of the key takeaways from this article:
Demonstrate the value of your product
Help customers get more value
Motivate with performance opportunities
Tell the story with data visualizations
Address customer concerns
Automate what you can - but keep things personal
Running QBRs can involve a lot of work but using the right tools and automating repetitive tasks makes all the difference. With meeting software like Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams, you can run QBR meetings remotely and you can enhance these further with Airgram.
If you want to reduce the manual workload of planning, meeting agendas, and running QBR meetings, sign up for your free Airgram account today.
Ranee has worked in the SaaS industry for nearly ten years. She loves working with, learning from, and helping develop effective leaders and is willing to share her thoughts through words. Outside of work, you can find her dancing, hiking in the mountains, or reading in a cafe.