How Microsoft takes stock of your online experience

At the Web Experience Forum in Boston yesterday, Mark Hydar, principal group manager for global quality of service (QoS) initiatives for Microsoft, discussed “Microsoft Live: Reinventing the MS online experience from the organization up.”

Hydar said that one of the challenges, as an IT leader, is that you sometimes don’t know what problems exist until they’ve grown into larger problems that users notice — which is why having matrices is so important for higher-level executives like CIOs.

Prior to coming to Microsoft, Hydar was at eBay for more than five years. He said he never would have imagined himself working at Microsoft, specifically because of the usability issues he was brought in to address. Once there, he created a virtual team, or “V-team,” including people from across the business, to accomplish his objectives.

Microsoft measures according to five “pillars” of QoS excellence with regard to its users’ experience with its Web services and products:

  • Performance
  • Reliability
  • Security
  • Business-feature metrics
  • Customer satisfaction

The first four pillars drive revenues, Hydar said, but it’s customer satisfaction that will drive company growth. When a site is easy to navigate, friends tell friends, and news of the improvements goes viral from there.

Hydar also listed several QoS best practices that Microsoft employs in assessing its online experience:

  • Move away from anecdotal data and solicit informational data.
  • Create cross-functional teams driving QoS.
  • Have each team create a scorecard defining QoS, with segments for customer/client marketing, support, data center/edge (service) and team-specific metrics.
  • Provide standard scorecards with some common metrics across teams.
  • Use the scorecards to adjust your activities and improve quality.
  • Implement a scorecard-driven review cycle.

I think that Hydar’s recommendations include just the right mixture of uniformity across different organizational units – so that you can compare and contrast business performance – and team-specific criteria. And his second-to-last best practice is a good one: all too often, organizations undertake internal studies, only to let the results sit on a bookshelf (virtual or otherwise) and gather dust. When you’ve taken stock of your QoS needs, appoint one or several point people to put them into action. Your users will thank you!

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