Technology professionals turn to their peers, not to vendors, for product recommendations and insights.  That’s why executives at Microsoft – the leading platform and productivity company for the mobile-first, cloud-first world, empowering every person or organization to achieve more – created a Customer Advocacy program.  But there was one major challenge.  Each business group had their own policies, processes, tools and support vendors. The disparate programs didn’t prevent overuse or abuse of a customer, caused customer dissatisfaction, made measuring key performance metrics difficult and did not align with the internal One Microsoft strategy.  That’s when executives Corinne Monty, Sr. Director, Marketing Services, and Nathan Warner, Sr. Audience Manager, Integrated Marketing made the decision to deploy the One Microsoft’ strategy to create the Global Customer Advocacy program.

The One Microsoft approach is an operational excellence strategy that’s customer-centric and enables significant efficiencies when implemented to a program.  The strategy provides a single infrastructure for world-wide reference and evidence management, standardizes reporting, centralizes reference and evidence requests and nominations, unifies training, enables tracking influence on sales pipeline and integrates governance framework to mitigate risk and assure compliance with approvals. By implementing the One Microsoft strategy, the executive’s goals were to reduce costs, mitigate random customer engagement, improve customer experience and centralize customer touch-points to measure key activities. Microsoft’s mission is to create a world of fans who are proud to tell their Microsoft story.

After extensive research and investigations, the executive team identified over a dozen various reference and evidence teams utilizing disparate tools.  That’s when Microsoft turned to RO Innovation as a trusted partner to move the company into a single, centralized tool with a single-governance model for operational efficiency and improved customer experience.

Rapid changes and results earns Microsoft the ‘Most Improved Program’ RO Sherpa Award

As a product of the changes explained above, the executive team has reported the following results:

  • Increased cost and time savings with migrated legacy systems, individual spreadsheets or trackers (over two dozen disparate tools) in one platform by one provider – RO Innovation – with simplified contracting.
  • Enabled more accurate management practices including reducing duplicated support efforts, tracking participation activities to prevent burn-out and abuse that improved customer satisfaction, unifying policies and processing requests/nominations.
  • Increased accuracy of reporting such as influenced opportunity revenue for sales-related requests nearly $1B annually, total reference customers available, global view of recruitments, total value each customer brings above their purchases, top active advocates, and top deals supported by advocacy program.
  • Improved productivity gains of 3% to 5% man hours per weekly for each reference manager by integrating and automating key data fields from CRM and evidence tools.
  • Instant access to lists of customers participating in Name Drop/Logo Use activity through easy-to-use, self-serve search capabilities time savings of 1 to 2 days.
  • Eliminated redundant vendor contracts, consolidating five reference and evidence vendor contracts into one.
  • Increased collaboration across projects enabled more stories of convergence using Microsoft with single, cross-group governance council and teams leveraging investment budgets.
  • Increased site traffic by up to 75% through migrating outdated, inaccessible and insecure platform to customers.microsoft.com from a modern, compliant UX built on Microsoft’s Azure software.

“By partnering closely with RO Innovation, who provides an industry-leading tool and extensive consulting, Microsoft is able to quickly scale and accelerate onboarding of business groups and get its sales and marketers up to speed rapidly on the new consolidated platform,” reported Tomi Nicholas, Business Program Manager, Marketing Services. “It wasn’t long for me to begin seeing positive results.”

By implementing RO Innovation, the global customer advocacy program has positioned itself for continued success supported by the executive team.  In addition to its results highlighted, Microsoft has also made itself more appealing to its most vital asset valued customers.  As Barbara Thomas, Global Customer Advocacy Lead at Microsoft observed earlier this year, “Your customers aren’t just your customers,” Thomas said. “Your customers are your best sales force, in fact, advocating and creating a greater fan base, creating the social ethos on how people recognize your brand.”

Congratulations, Microsoft!

Microsoft is the winner of the 2017 RO Sherpa Award for Most Improved Program.The Most Improved Program award recognizes an organization that set a specific goal in the past, and has made major strides in accomplishing it.  On behalf of the RO Innovation team, congratulations Microsoft on this achievement!

Nichole Auston
Director, Content Marketing at RO Innovation
Nichole Auston is the Director of Content Marketing at RO Innovation. With a background in digital marketing and nearly a decade of experience managing marketing programs for a variety of SaaS companies, she’s passionate about sharing insights, best practices and stories about sales enablement and customer reference management, and the people and technology that power it.
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