As Customer Success specialists, we often think of quarterly business reviews (QBRs) as the reviews we do with our own customers, when we summarize recent successes, outline future targets, and build our connections with key stakeholders. However, there is another form of QBR that is crucial to a Customer Success team’s success: the QBR of the Customer Success team itself. Internal Quarterly Business Review is a strategic activity used by customer success teams to assess their functional roles with their managers during the preceding quarter and think about how to renew customers, work through forthcoming obstacles, and perceive possibilities in a new way.
Why Internal Quarterly Business Review is important
Many CSMs have worked on a team where their procedure remains unchanged from quarter to quarter. The only thing that matters is the upsell or renewal of a customer—all it’s about is the money. And, regardless of whether or not they fulfilled their client renewal or growth objectives, CSMs often feel like victims when it comes time to review quotas and performance.
Internal QBRs, on the other hand, should be a collaborative moment between a CSM and CS leadership to understand what went well throughout the quarter, what tools were used or weren’t used, what obstacles were encountered, and what could be handled differently going forward.
So, how do you go about creating a QBR process for your Customer Success team, especially if you’ve never done one before? And how can you make sure that these audits are thorough and strategic in nature?
Additional Resource: Download our Quarterly Business Review Template
Steps to Internal Quarterly Business Reviews:
Make the process well-known, simple, and efficient
If the QBR process is difficult or confusing, you can bet it will be dreaded by your Customer Success team.
As a result, the very first step to nurturing beneficial QBRs is to have well-documented steps of what is required of each individual participant – both for those leading the QBR and those presenting.
The second step is creating a QBR Expectations document to send with all attendees that clearly states crucial details like who will attend, the agenda for the meeting (along with how long each topic should be discussed), and what materials should be prepared ahead of time.
Possessing a Customer Success Platform that can collect and analyze data is critical, as it guarantees that data supplied is consistent across all reps and is not a hassle for team members to acquire.
When creating a “QBR Expectations Document” to communicate with participants, keep the following points in mind:
- Who should come, and what are their responsibilities?
- What resources should be ready ahead of time? The kind of reports that should be obtained? What figures/metrics should be understood? (Make sure this isn’t just about the year before, but also about the year ahead.)
- What will the Customer Success QBR look like and what tools will be used?
- Should slides be prepared if a presentation is involved? Is there going to be a template?
- What is the Customer Success QBR’s agenda? How much time should each issue be discussed? (We recommend a maximum of 3 hours per QBR.)
Participation is encouraged at all levels of the Customer Success team
Everyone involved in maintaining and expanding customer connections, from executives to CSMs, should be included in the QBR process, and the reviews should be structured from the top-down, with the senior executive leading their direct reports through the process. However, the inclusion of all levels should NOT result in a QBR where CSMs and/or managers are “caught” in mistakes or missed opportunities. The purpose of the QBR is to review and keep the business on course [as well as] to facilitate [the team’s] thinking for particular circumstances, according to the QBR. It’s critical to establish clear expectations for both parties’ duties. CSMs and managers are responsible for their business plan and must be able to demonstrate it.
Follow a Step-by-Step Procedure. Always.
Was the previous quarter your best in terms of client growth, churn reduction, and satisfied customers? That’s fantastic news, but there’s even more motivation to continue with your Customer Success QBR rather than abandoning it. Because of other “more immediate needs,” many SaaS companies with a booming quarter with amazing MRR and delighted clients are tempted to change the process and skip critical steps. However, we strongly advise you not to skip any steps in the procedure.
Even if you have had your finest quarter or year ever, you should use the Customer Success QBR to reflect on why it was so successful. What can be repeated? How do we successfully hire and train new employees? How can we expand our business more quickly in the following year without sacrificing quality? If you do, your team won’t take Customer Success QBRs seriously in the future quarters, or they’ll perceive them as a punishment for a bad quarter rather than an opportunity for development and improvement.
Allow the past to assist in defining the future.
The majority of the QBR’s usefulness is derived from applying past lessons to the future. There should be two outcomes from the QBR:
Examine the previous quarter’s problems, opportunities, wins, and failures.
Set goals for the coming quarter, remove roadblocks and discover development possibilities.
Your team will undoubtedly face bumps and unanticipated hurdles during the QBR process. Instead of bombarding the CSM or manager with demanding questions, leaders should adopt a coaching mindset. Instead, think of asking guided questions like: Tell me more about that. What prompted your reaction? How and whatare you going to do differently the next time? What can we all learn from this experience and do better next time?
5 Internal QBR Benchmarks to Examine
When it comes to reviewing practical standards in the internal QBR, these five should always be on the table:
Customer Health: The overall health of a CSM’s customers, as well as the health of customers in a specific location, territory, or segment.
Growth Potential: The forecast for the CSM’s account growth or churn. Assess the ARR or MRR risk and make a forecast for account growth or churn.
Account Penetration: An evaluation of the CSM’s performance in growing the client account’s footprint. Figure out how many people use the product on a regular basis.
CSM Activity: A review of the CSM’s touch, engagement, and activity within each client account. Discuss how the CSM’s game plan for the upcoming quarter connects to his or her behavior.
Product Usage: An evaluation of how customers of the CSM interact with the product. Determine which roles, such as end-users, decision-makers, champions, and so on, will be used.
Internal QBRs can be a great way to cultivate stakeholders throughout the whole customer success function. Start the internal QBR process with your teams as you plan customer QBRs for the coming quarter, and use the stages above to reflect on past learnings and plan for the future.