What Is a QBR?
A Quarterly Business Review, or QBR, is a quarterly check-in with your customer or partner to review the impact and improvements made with your product or service on the customer’s business. QBR meetings are most often led by Customer Success Managers, and are an important part of a Customer Success Team’s role in customer satisfaction and retention.
To support our own onboarding and training program, Skilljar initiates Quarterly Business Reviews with organizations that demonstrate a sizable opportunity to scale their customer success programs.
These 60-minute sessions are an opportunity for us to deepen our relationships with our customers, share insights from benchmarks and best practices, and further set customers up for success through matching Skilljar’s solutions to their unique business goals.
This post will detail the typical goals and agenda of a QBR meeting, and give you a template to use in your next QBR conversation.
What Are the Goals of a QBR?
When designing the process of your QBR, it’s important to consider the desired goals for your customer. While you may be tempted to highlight your company’s upcoming plans or feature improvements, a QBR is not a sales pitch. Make it all about your customer and their success.
Break the conversation into two sets of goals: customer goals and your goals as the CSM. Think about the unique insights you can provide that will help your customers and partners strategically improve their business. As the CSM, think about the key objectives you need to understand to continue internally advocating for your customer’s business goals.
What Are the Benefits of Conducting a QBR?
QBRs are a wonderful opportunity to seek alignment with your customers and build a strong relationship. Here are a few benefits of QBR conversations:
1. Create a strong foundation
Treat your customer relationship like a partnership in order to create a strong foundation for success
2. Build trust
Scheduling quarterly business review meetings tells your customer that you’re serious about their ROI, and will work together to see it through
3. Maintain customer health
QBRs provide an open dialogue to discuss how you can continue maintaining your customer’s goals
4. Prove ROI
If you want to renew your LMS plan and prove its value, bring back the results of your QBR to the C-suite decision-makers
5. Ensure alignment
Use this time to ensure your customers that you’re aligned with their program objectives
Setting a QBR Agenda
A typical QBR agenda may consist of the following items:
- Review historical metrics and results to uncover areas of opportunity
- Plan strategically for future actions or growth
- Leverage new features offered on your product or service platform to increase adoption and help the customer reach their goals
- Learn best practices shared by your Customer Success Managers
- Understand your customers’ key objectives for the upcoming quarter and year
- Ensure your customers are achieving their business goals
- Reinforce your company’s ROI delivered through reporting and analytics
- Preview upcoming product roadmap
- Share training tips and strategies
What to Have Prepared For a QBR
While the specifics will vary from customer to customer, a QBR meeting should include a review of the customer’s account, including:
- Previously discussed initiatives
- Discussion of any obstacles and challenges
- Features utilized
- Training metrics to find growth opportunities
- Notable wins
Potential QBR Questions
It’s fair to assume your customers will have their own set of questions prepared. Consider any questions they asked at the last QBR and questions they might have as a follow-up to your talking points, and allow for a general Q&A at the end.
A few examples of common questions Skilljar CSMs are asked during a typical QBR include:
- How are we comparing to our peers?
- What metrics can we look at to determine the health of our training program?
- What’s the best way to use x feature?
- What upcoming features can help our company progress?
- Will I receive a copy of our presentation today?
What’s Included in a QBR Template?
A QBR template can include sections about:
- Program Alignment
- Program Milestones & Goals
- Feature and Product Updates Review
- Roadmap Review
Let’s take a look at each of these categories in more detail, including examples of the actual QBR slide deck we use at Skilljar.
It would be naive to assume your customer’s goals with your product are always the same. As their business objectives evolve over time, so should your conversation. Start the QBR meeting with a discussion on reviewing and aligning (or re-aligning) those objectives.
At Skilljar, we review things like:
- The customer’s account scope with Skilljar
- Recent challenges to be solved with customer education
- Objectives and success metrics they’re tracking
- Features and integrations they utilize
After reviewing the above topics, move into alignment with whatever specific education program your customer is working through at the moment. Here’s an example of slides we use to review our customer’s program.
Program Milestones & Goals
As previously mentioned, a QBR is all about championing your customer’s wins and progress. Use a portion of your meeting to acknowledge their past wins and help them identify opportunities for improvement in their external customer training program.
The example slide below is how we organize our conversations around milestones. Doing so also provides your customer with a snapshot of their wins, and is organized in a way that’s easily digestible.
This is also an opportune time to brainstorm on future milestones. Ask your customer what they want to achieve with their customer learning program in the future. Pitch them your best practices and recommendations to achieve these goals.
Many companies tie education metrics with business outcomes, and those metrics are often used to make a case for keeping their LMS contract. With that in mind, take time during your discussion to review key QBR metrics that relate to the specific goals of your customer’s overall training activity.
Doing so will give customers a pulse on their business goals and an opportunity to readjust if needed. Depending on the structure of your business and the customer’s use case, metrics for review could include:
- # of Course Registrations
- # of Course Completions
- Session time
- Course Completion rate
And engagement metrics, like:
- Lesson views per course
- Completion rates per course
- Last activity day by month
These QBR metrics allow your customers to drill into which training content is performing well, and which can be improved. Don’t cover metrics just to tick off a box. Use this time to spark meaningful conversation on what these metrics mean for your customer, and what actions you could take based on these results.
With these deeper dive QBR slides, we again try to provide more value than just reporting the numbers. Instead, we aim to spark a conversation on what these metrics mean for our customer, and what actions we could take based on these results. We kick off those conversations with the “observations” and “consider” sections of this slide.
Once the housekeeping is complete, it’s time to take a look under the hood. Review your customer’s training portal and make recommendations for improving the user experience. Provide straightforward tips on how to utilize your product’s features. Focus on how the customer can implement changes to improve product adoption and learner engagement.
This portion of the conversation can be used to discuss recent feature launches. Although you might be updating customers about new features on your website, email, or blog, we’re all busy and the announcement could easily get lost. Bringing up new features in the QBR session gives the CSM a chance to help organizations understand how they can use a specific feature, and realize its full potential value. If relevant, you can also dive into features that your customer may find particularly useful.
Initially, this organization offered only one training course to their customers — so a course catalog wasn’t required. But as the organization launched more courses and built a course catalog, our QBR sessions offered an opportunity to discuss how they could better manage course engagement. For example, we discussed tagging training courses with attributes and adding more specific header text.
Later in this QBR session, we review recent feature launches. While we communicate launches on our product newsletters and blog, bringing it up in the QBR session gives us a chance to help organizations understand how they can use a specific feature. If relevant, we also dive into features that our customer may find particularly useful.
During the final portion of your QBR, touch on the product roadmap. Giving the customer a sneak peek at upcoming feature launches is a way to garner their excitement and opens up a dialogue on any additional features they’d like to see. You can even take their feedback to the product team to use on features in progress!
Previewing the product roadmap is not just a game of show-and-tell. Use it as a strategic way to circle back to the customer’s upcoming goals and objectives, and how training fits into their overall Customer Success map.
Leave ample time at the end of the QBR call for questions and clear next steps. Email your customer their updated QBR presentation after the call.
We have found that this QBR agenda of metrics, features review, and roadmap review works well to provide our customers with actionable insights and best practices.
After the QBR your customer or partner should feel equipped to make any identified changes to improve performance and/or understand the next steps to get approval for future changes in strategy.
You should record all the next steps so you or your peers can easily follow up and continue to provide support.
Are you looking to scale customer success at your organization? Schedule a demo to learn more about Skilljar’s customer onboarding and training programs
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2015, and has been updated in 2022.