Relationship Management at Microsoft
Published: June 2009
Microsoft wants to build and sustain more mutually productive and satisfying relationships with its customers. To fulfill this goal, the Relationship Experience Division (RXD) of Microsoft Information Technology (Microsoft IT) is developing new business systems, online experiences, and common platforms. These global solutions, which are available anytime, will help satisfy customers' desires for a more consistent, personal, and private customer experience. In turn, Microsoft will benefit by cultivating a deeper understanding of its customers' needs for products and support services.
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In today's business environment, relationship management is about understanding customers at a personal level. At Microsoft, success means understanding which products and services customers use—in their personal and professional lives—and how they use them. Relationship management at Microsoft is also about enabling customers to easily manage their relationships with Microsoft online. This means providing the right combination of self-service applications and personal interaction for each customer. For example, customers should be able to manage all of their licenses, support incidents, Microsoft® Xbox® subscriptions, and any other business interactions at the Microsoft Web site. They should also be able to easily access personal assistance when needed. The need for success in relationship management is supported by the Microsoft vision of "one Microsoft to the customer, and one customer to Microsoft."
This is a common challenge for many companies that deliver products and services to their client base, and that want a deeper understanding of their customers' buying patterns and support requirements.
Several business conditions make it vitally important for Microsoft, or any company, to succeed at relationship management. Customers demand and have grown to expect organizations to be available globally—24 hours a day, seven days a week. Customers also expect to be able to manage all of their touch points with a company in a consistent way from one place, and they expect that connection with a company to be personalized and private.
RXD is leading Microsoft in a new era of comprehensive relationship management that helps ensure that customers and partners experience a productive and satisfying relationship with Microsoft. This article describes how Microsoft IT is developing line-of-business systems, online experiences, and common platforms that will enable Microsoft to succeed at relationship management.
Vision of RXD
RXD has two missions. The first is to empower customers and partners to establish, manage, and enrich their relationships with Microsoft. The second is to broaden employees' business capabilities and deepen their insights into customer and partner needs and behavior. These missions drive four strategic goals:
- Customer and partner. Dramatically improve satisfaction by giving users the tools and information they need to enhance their relationship with Microsoft.
- Technology. Create industry-leading relationship-management technologies and solutions that showcase and advance the Microsoft platform.
- Team. Be the place where the best people do their best work while making a real difference for millions of people.
- Business. Deliver agile business capabilities that increase business velocity and profitability for customers, partners, and Microsoft.
Achieving these goals requires RXD to embrace a new integrated way of thinking about and building business solutions.
Challenges for RXD
In implementing this vision, the RXD team faced many challenges:
- Application silos. The increased complexity of the Microsoft business model results in a large number of applications on which its employees depend. This burgeoning of emerging applications left the Microsoft application portfolio with redundant and conflicting application silos that are costly to sustain, difficult to extend, or impossible to scale.
- Perception of IT as slow and unresponsive. Under the weight of the Microsoft application portfolio, MicrosoftIT is challenged to deliver new features while maintaining the current portfolio of varied, almost competing solutions and technologies. This results in users perceiving IT as slow and unresponsive.
- Siloed customer relationship management (CRM) solutions. Local optimization led to the first service-oriented integration infrastructure in the sales, service, and partner systems, with each emerging independently. These early platforms started consolidating business and technical capabilities, but only in the context of their lines of business. The result was a suite of siloed CRM solutions. These individual solutions left customers and partners with multiple touch points and independent relationships at Microsoft.
- Data consistency. Problems maintaining data consistency result from siloed applications. Microsoft has invested in the development of a master data management (MDM) strategy that is helping to solve the problem.
- Control of the user interface (UI). Application owners must give up control of their UIs to provide a single touch point for users to manage their relationship with Microsoft. Application owners perceive this as risky, however.
- Complexity of customer relationships. Each year, customer requirements become richer and larger in scope, which adds to the complexity of customer relationships. Scenarios that call for persona-based work surfaces (which enable different types of users to work with the same set of data in a way that makes sense to their requirements), greater workflow automation, and continuous data quality improvements face challenges in integrating across application silos.
The state of RXD's emerging business requirements, IT efficiency, and best-customer objectives presents an exciting opportunity to transform the Microsoft technical strategy for delivering business solutions. RXD has partnered with MicrosoftIT to develop user-centric thinking that embraces a common, service-based platform strategy as the backbone for all future solution development.
RXD is building line-of-business systems, online experiences, and common platforms that will enable customers and partners to establish, manage, and enrich their relationship with Microsoft.
Common Platforms that eliminate redundancy, increase quality, and reduce time to market with MDM capabilities and reusable services and software assets based on latest technologies:
- Master Data Management. A data mastering, services-oriented framework that will recognize a customer at any touch point, aggregate accurate, up-to-date data about that customer, and deliver that data just in time to the right people and systems. Microsoft can then take action to satisfy that customer. For more information about Master Data Management, go to http://technet.microsoft.com/library/cc835257.aspx.
- The Relationship Experience Platform (RXP). A common, reusable platform architecture that is reinventing how Microsoft develops and delivers high-impact, mission-critical, customer and partner-facing applications. This project includes flexible work surfaces, role-aware business processes and data, coherent data access and management, and consistent process and data services that connect federated platforms.
- RXP Security. A globalized enterprise security platform to deploy critical business applications in a security-enhanced way on a Microsoft extranet. It is the gateway to more than 7,000 applications, everything from simple Microsoft SharePoint® sites to extremely complex Web applications. For more information about RXP security, go to http://technet.microsoft.com/library/dd278435.aspx.
- The Relationship Framework
Line-of-Business Systems to support Microsoft employees engaged in marketing, selling, and supporting Microsoft products and services:
- Global Sales Experience. A CRM solution built entirely from Microsoft technologies that enables the Microsoft sales force to manage their relationships with their customers. Data from this platform enables the executive teams at Microsoft to make decisions that are more informed.
- Global Marketing Platform. A platform that optimizes direct and indirect worldwide marketing campaigns: newsletters, e-mail messages, Web sites, and lead management. This enables Microsoft marketers to establish and enrich customer and partner relationships more effectively and efficiently.
- Global Services and Support. Consolidated customer service, incident management, and eligibility to help our customers, clients, and partners realize their potential through world-class customer service and technical support.
Online Experiences to give customers and partners a personalized and deep experience for all Microsoft properties:
- Microsoft.com. The largest corporate site on the Internet with the highest availability among top sites. As the primary point of contact between Microsoft and its customers, the Microsoft.com team is on the forefront of shaping the Microsoft customer experience. The team designs, builds, and operates the platform, tools, and sites that enable the Microsoft.com site.
- Customer Velocity Platform. An online experience for customers that will simplify the customer's view of Microsoft, deliver highly relevant content, share future interactions based on past behavior, and put end users in control of each interaction with Microsoft and its partners.
- Partner Velocity Platform. An industry-leading online experience for Microsoft partners that simplifies their view of Microsoft, delivers highly relevant content, and empowers partners to realize their full potential and to grow their business.
Previous sections described RXD's goals and the solutions that the organization is building to enable relationship management for Microsoft. RXD has also embraced a set of common themes that provide a framework for achieving these results. A set of core values and beliefs is woven into the context of designing, developing, testing, and delivering RXP capabilities. The themes that guide RXD are:
- Rich interactions across all touch points for customers, partners, and employees. RXD is enabling increased customer and partner loyalty through consistent recognition and personalization, respecting preferences, and delivering on the Microsoft brand promises. Employees will benefit from seamless, role-focused user experiences, which will increase their productivity and provide direct and focused interactions with customers and partners.
- Coherent business process and workflow. RXD is revolutionizing standards for the implementation of clear and consistent business processes across user experiences. It is also enabling enterprise-scale, long-running workflow processes, providing clear visibility to process state across role and application boundaries.
- Effective data. RXD is providing a data quality solution that spans the customer and partner life cycle by connecting operational systems, implementing standard models, and reducing the number of data masters.
- Reduced cost and increased agility. RXD is reducing costs by consolidating redundant capabilities and using standard operations models and rich tools for deployment and management. Through architecture that provides built-in extensibility and reusability, RXD is increasing the agility of Microsoft to deliver new business capabilities.
- Innovation. RXD represents the state of the art in available technologies and, by design, will be consistent with the strategic technological and design direction at Microsoft. As technologies and strategies evolve, flexibility, extensibility, and feedback will create the DNA of RXD solutions to ensure ongoing evolution and improvement.
For Microsoft employees, customers, and partners, the solutions that RXD develops bring eagerly anticipated capabilities, technologies, and benefits. RXD provides clear, coherent benefits to the business and will provide the Microsoft-to-customer and customer-to-Microsoft experience that will deliver on the promise of relationship management.
Microsoft wants customers and partners to build a mutually beneficial relationship with Microsoft—not with Xbox and not with the Azure Services Platform or the Windows Live™ network of Internet services, but with Microsoft as a whole. In today's business environment of personalization, hyper-competition, Web 3.0, and software-plus-services, delivering on this vision is more relevant than ever.
RXD's investment in building line-of-business systems, online experiences, and common platforms is providing Microsoft with the solutions it needs to develop these deeper relationships with its customers and partners.
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products or services, call the Microsoft Sales Information Center at (800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft Canada information Centre at (800) 563-9048. Outside the 50 United States and Canada, please contact your local Microsoft subsidiary. To access information through the World Wide Web, go to:
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