Microsoft Interview Summary – Improving Our Community Engagement

Below us a summary I sent to my workgroup regarding feedback I recieved from 13 ‘Most Valuable Professionals’ during the Microsoft MVP Summit.  The question?  “How can Microsoft improve the way they engage with the community?”  The MVP program is designed to support influencers in the community that use Microsoft products.  They were the perfect group of people to interview about how Microsoft can improve engagement tactics.  Although this report is specific to Microsoft feedback, it’s applicable to any large organization and I’m sure you all can glean a nugget of awesome from it.A special thank you to all the MVP folk that gave such awesome feedback.  You know who you are and you rule.


Last week during the MVP Summit 2012 I had the pleasure of   meeting with several MVPs from SQL Server, Visual Studio, C# and   OneNote.  These MVPs responded to a Twitter post where I asked for   volunteers to share their opinions on how Microsoft can improve our   engagement in the customer community.  There was a quick and strong   response and by the end of the week I had interviewed 13 MVPs and received   some great feedback.

Executive Summary

The overarching take away from these interviews is a unanimous   request that Microsoft connect with the community as people rather than a   corporation.  A community is a collection of people and we cannot engage   within that community unless we are engaging as individuals.  This lack   of personal engagement has resulted in the following concerns

  •    Sterile and   ineffective presentations
  •   The same content over and over regardless of   community interest
  •   The overall feeling that Microsoft is   inapproachable
  •   A consistent inability to identify area experts

The majority of MVPs also reported their dissatisfaction with   Microsoft’s presence at smaller gatherings such as user groups and SQL   Saturdays.  They experience these smaller groups to be more conducive to   generating quality feedback and accommodating deep dives.  While they   find value in the larger conferences they don’t feel they have the ability to   truly provide feedback and generate a conversation about our products.

Below are further trends in MVP feedback.

Key Findings & Recommendations

  •   Microsoft needs to find it’s unique voice:    Often the information that is provided during conferences or in blogs   mirrors that type of information that is available on MSDN, TechNet or 3rd   party resources.  We have a unique ability as Microsoft employees to   offer behind the scenes information which the customer is hungry for.    The MVPs recommends that we provide insight into why we are making the   decisions we are in the product and what our long term strategy is.
  •   Microsoft needs to improve its participation   in other ‘in person’ opportunities:  It’s no surprise that customers   would want us to attend more of their ongoing events within the   community.  MVPs recommend this participation as it is a valuable   resource for gathering critical feedback.  One recommendation is that we   leverage our travel to attend events happening in that area.  It is also   recommended that we consider virtual participation when possible.  Of   course ‘in person’ is preferred, but virtual attendance would also be valued.
  •    Microsoft needs to have a consistent   presence in the community:  The MVPs experience Microsoft increasing   their community participation during key events such as an upcoming conference   or release.  This is valuable but the withdraw after the event is   perceived as our product team being inconsistent and unreliable.  MVPs   recommend that we continue to increase involvement during these key events   but also ensure there are some people dedicated to ongoing participation
  •   Microsoft needs to listen and respond to the   community: There isn’t a clear connection between the information we share   online and what is happening in the community today. One MVP stated, “If the   news is important, it should come to me”.   MVPs want to see area   experts addressing what is happening in the field today.  We should be   topical and get the information where the customers already are.

Rest assured our team heard you and we are in the process of creating tools and resources to resolve these issues. Keep the feedback coming!


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6 responses to “Microsoft Interview Summary – Improving Our Community Engagement

  1. Thank you again for taking the time to talk to everyone. You guys seem like you’re truly serious about changing the culture for the better. Very excited to see what’s next from the Mothership and hope to see more Microsoft folks with ‘boots on the ground’ at local events.

  2. It was great catching up with you at the Summit Jen! I am very much looking forward to improved Microsoft technical community involvement!!

  3. Hi Jen,
    Aplogies for not taking the time to meet with you last week.
    One thing that, as a SQL Server MVP, has always irked me slightly is that the content on Channel9 is heavily weighted toward what you might call the “appdev” fraternity. Roger Doherty has had some SQL Server content up therre recently but we never get to see the inner workings which is what Channel9 is supposed to be about.
    In short, more videos featuring SQL Server product team members would be of interest to me and may be a step toward some of your stated recommendations.


    • Great feedback Jamie. I think we’re going to have to leverage virtual presentations much more. It’s so easy for us to ‘face to face’ now with skype, channel 9, webcasts, and so on. Takes a while for those ‘new fangled’ tools to be natural but.. we are a tech company so…..

  4. Pingback: How’s Microsoft doing with community involvement? (updated) | SQL Awesomesauce

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