As many of us are taking some much-needed downtime, I’m closing out the year by replaying some of my most popular episodes from 2018. Today’s episode, which many of you seemed to enjoy, features Amanda Sachs, General Manager, Customer & Partner Experience at Microsoft.
This is such a multi-faceted interview because CX for Microsoft involves numerous partners and employees that span the world, so not only do we discuss CX at a local level, but we talk about how to make an impact with teams that operate in different cultures and speak different languages. I encourage you to check out the original show notes to find even more of Amanda’s great tactics and insights.
With Organizational Maturity Comes Increased Responsibilities
Amanda shares that even though Microsoft still holds on to its entrepreneurial spirit, which it has to, in order to come up with new and innovative ideas, the company has definitely had to adapt and compete for customers due to competitive pressures. When there wasn’t much competition, Microsoft delivered the experience it wanted, but as CX practitioners, we know that customer experience is now seen as a competitive advantage, and Microsoft realizes this as well.
Though Microsoft has had the right leaders at the right time, says Amanda, it’s Satya Nadella, the company’s new CEO who’s customer obsession mantra has really facilitated the company’s growth. This focus on the customer first has really taken things to a new level for the organization, “to a level of maturity that’s well beyond what we ever could’ve done in the past. I would say timing, leadership and competitive pressures really have opened the door for us,” says Amanda.
Implementing CX Beyond the Local LevelSince Amanda started off at Microsoft Canada, she understood the importance of the company’s global communications and partnerships. She knew how to talk to other leaders and figure out – where do they feel are gaps in opportunities? Amanda also knew that to understand the true gauge of progress or lack thereof, you need to know the voice of the customer and partner feedback.
It was extremely important for her to be able to speak on behalf of the customer and partners, so she could understand what was and wasn’t working, and communicate that back to her team.
She explains that Microsoft’s culture looks different in every country, which is another factor to consider when implementing a CX transformation. You need to understand the culture in which your business is operating and how customers and business partners receive you. As general manager of partner experience, Amanda began traveling around the world to meet with the leadership teams to understand how they do business. She also spent time talking to customers and employees to see what these differences are and be able to advocate for them back at home in the United States.
Formalize and Operationalize your Customer Experience Internally
Something I continue to stress when it comes to effectively transforming your organization’s CX is the importance of operationalizing the work. Your team needs specific tactics and behaviors to continue to execute against in order to make strides in this work. Amanda knows this as well, and worked with her team to formalize the customer and partner experience rhythm of the business. This meant establishing key moments and meetings where all of the players would bring insights and actions, and different groups across the company were held accountable for what they were hearing and seeing. They were held responsible for the actions they needed to take in order to gain traction on the work and to determine what help they might need from other reams.
During this formalization process, Amanda shares that they held company-wide forums, councils, and quarterly meetings in order to bring in their assessments, plans, and understandings of where they needed to partner. These meetings are extremely important, according to Amanda, it’s here, where your career and advancements in CX could be either made or broken in terms of the insights you brought and the case you made for an investment or partnership. This is especially important for those who come to the table trying to influence engineering to create a specific product or feature functionality.
Don’t Forget to Tell the Customer Story
Amanda stresses the importance of finding different methods to gather voice of the customer feedback, and to use this information to tell the customer’s story in a human way. You can’t just present a data set and hope that it tells a story on it’s own—you need to tell stories using data. Combine stories and anecdotes with data in order to influence action and accountability around the company. This is an area that Microsoft has been investing in a lot. Amanda believes storytelling is an art form that you need to continue to improve upon and perfect in order to make the narrative more compelling.
ABOUT AMANDA SACHS
Amanda is responsible for global customer and partner satisfaction of Microsoft Corporation including driving Microsoft’s Customer & Partner Experience (CPE) strategy across company headquarters and the Sales, Marketing & Services Group worldwide.
Amanda partners with senior leaders across the company to increase customer-centric culture, implement effective CPE business planning, and define accountability, reward and recognition, and measurement processes and programs.
The presenting sponsor of The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show is Customerville. Customerville transforms customer experience surveys into rich, interactive experiences using its unique Design-driven Feedback™ platform.
This partnership ensures that I can continue these shows that you’ve shared such positive feedback on. Thanks so much to Customervillle! Enjoy the show!