importance of customer experience

The importance of CX for Microsoft Partners—an interview with Barb Levisay

  • We interviewed Barb Levisay, Contributing Editor for Redmond Channel Partner 
  • Getting in the shoes of your customers is key
  • Improving CX is essential
  • A look at the future of partner marketing

Lately, we’ve been reading about the need for organisations to prioritise Customer Experience (CX) as a primary focus of their marketing strategies. Back in November, Microsoft Partner Network published an interesting piece outlining the ‘Power of Positive Customer Experience,’ adding to the zeitgeist. But what does this rise of CX actually mean for Microsoft Partners?

We spoke with Barb Levisay, Contributing Editor for Redmond Channel Partner, and writer for Microsoft Partners, to hear her thoughts on CX and how it will impact marketers working at Microsoft Partner companies.

Last year, Microsoft published a blog on the importance of customer experience. What do you think has led to the drive in CX for partners?

Barb: It's something that needed to happen:  I’ve worked with Microsoft partners for 20 years, and for so many years Microsoft was too focused on their technology. They were technologists and they weren’t good at looking at the end game, or the challenges partners had in making these solutions come to life for customers. And that’s what CX is about.

The blog post was good in highlighting the importance of understanding your customer. If partners can’t stand in the shoes of customers and think about the challenges they have, then they cannot develop effective marketing programmes.

The first thing any partner marketer needs to do, is to have a good definition of the ideal customer and what they want to experience. When I’m working with partners, the first question I’ll ask them is: 'help put me in your customer’s shoes', and if they can’t do that, then we need to go back to the start. That’s the first step.

Do you find that marketers are doing this? Or they are still at a hurdle getting into the shoes of the customer?

Barb: My advice, especially for new marketers working for a Partner, is it’s more important to get out and interface with customers. I mean it’s something you can’t read about it. Marketers should go out with the sales people on the sales calls, discovery sessions and consulting engagements. It’s incredibly helpful to hear from the customers (face to face is best) to hear their challenges. At least once a month, marketers should be going out to hear the words of their customers, and the Partner organisations should be supporting those connections.

It helps a marketer to get a better understanding of what the experience is, which in turn helps them to build campaigns and an online presence that is meaningful to the customer. I think organisations need to understand that the marketing team needs to be immersed in CX just as much as any other employees.

How do you see CX impacting marketing for Microsoft Partners through the channels that they’re using?

Barb: I think that the actual measurement is the hardest part. As our footprints expand online, we don't have the feedback and the Maya tool that your firm has built helps to do that. And it’s very good to see that Microsoft is getting behind it, because partners need the feedback, and the tools out there only go so far. As much as organisations may think that they understand customer experience, can they be sure that the words they are using are reflecting search terms the customers are using? When you go online, you lose the dimensions of facial expression and immediate feedback, so tools like Maya are a step in the right direction.


How can Partners measure their customer experience strategy?

Barb: They need to talk with their customers, keeping that two-way communication going. I think that one of the ways is, they need to use feedback from tools like Maya and work with other teams. By having that ‘loop’, these marketers can and should be leading the charge in customer experience and paying attention to all that feedback that comes in. They should then be distilling and translating that information to their consulting and sales teams. The problem is, consultants get so tied up in the technical parts, that they forget about the real impact, and how easy it is to get that information. That’s why marketers should be out front, helping the rest of the organisation to keep CX at the front of everything.

Have you seen a change of marketing managers doing that?

Barb: To a certain degree yes, but not as much as we should have. Far too many marketers are living in a vacuum, kept separate in the office because of expectations of partners, and owners that don’t want or see the benefit of them being out in the field. Marketers still have the challenge of communicating that marketing isn’t just a cost center, but can bring real value to the organization. This is why marketers have got to keep working at communicating the value of the work they’re doing."

What does the future look like for marketing for Microsoft Partners in relation to CX?

Barb: This is referring to the [Microsoft Partner CX] blog post: Having Microsoft recognise now that CX is what we need to be talking about is a huge step forward. There was a time when Partner marketers had to make it up themselves. All of the campaigns and content coming out of Microsoft were just technology driven and marketers had to translate that into business benefits. Not only is Microsoft releasing tools like MAYA that are more practical, but the content they are creating is much more benefit driven. That support goes a long way to help Marketers stretch the slim resources that they have. The key thing to remember is that CX is about the marketers getting out of the office and stepping into the customer’s shoes. There’s no replacement for that. Don’t think technology, think about how the solution benefits your customer. That’s how the content that matters is created.

We want to thank Barb for her time discussing the importance of CX and the ways that Microsoft Partner marketers can strengthen their strategy to align with Microsoft. If you're interested in driving CX with your marketing strategy and getting in the shoes of your customers, why not try Maya, the digital benchmarking tools for Microsoft Partners.

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Digital marketing performance

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  • Measuring your digital marketing with Maya
  • Get an overview of how well your channels are doing and how to improve them

It’s no mystery that top-quality digital marketing performance is a crucial part of increasing business growth for your organisation. If you want people to buy your services, they first need to know about them – and these days, the internet is where they will look first. Digital marketing was once ‘the future of marketing’, now it’s simply: marketing.

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Analytics platforms Google Analytics, Facebook Analytics and Twitter Analytics measure your success within their respective networks. But it’s still difficult to quantify the success of each individual part of a wider strategy – and even harder to determine how they all tie together.

Google Analytics, for example, tells you how many people have viewed your blog, but it has no interest in demonstrating how your wider social and SEO strategies influenced that number – and little advice on how to improve it.

Maya is different. Maya gives you the what, where and how of what’s good, what’s gone wrong, why this happens – and crucially, how to improve it.

Measuring your marketing with Maya

When you visit the website and input the relevant details, Maya runs an initial website diagnosis. Think of it like a full body health check for your blog, website, and social. Here are some of the main areas on which Maya gathers and processes information.

Blog and social engagement

Engagement: perhaps the statistic most fundamental to your digital marketing strategy. This is what everything else feeds into; the concrete number you seek to improve. What you want to know is how successful each blog, social post, and website is at driving traffic.

With Maya, you easily see what types of blogs and tweets perform best, how frequently you post, and where the traffic is coming from. How many people are commenting and retweeting your post? How many are following your links? What could these numbers be – what should they be, and how do you improve them? The answer is just a click away…

Content health and frequency

It’s all well and good knowing how to write good content – but how do you create a good content strategy. You need to plan an effective combination of different content types, knowing when, where and how often each of these should be posted.

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Link strategy

How many links are enough? Where do they need to be and where should they lead? Where should they come from? As we’ve mentioned before, an effective link strategy is an important part of getting traffic to your website and making it more navigable once they’ve arrived.

Anyone can tell you to ‘get links in your blog’. But what’s the right balance of internal vs. outbound links? Are you linking to the right sources? What’s the balance of backlinks to your website.

More importantly, what, where, and when do these different types of links appear on your website – and what should you do to improve it?

Mobile and desktop speed

This might seem something of a niche compared to other aspects of your SEO strategy – but Maya’s specialises in diagnosing even these most minute details. Everyone knows how frustrating it is to log onto a website and wait for it to load. Most don’t bother. If either your desktop or mobile speed is slow enough that you lose traffic– you should know.

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If this upfront diagnosis was all Maya achieved, it’d still be a pretty impressive tool. And if this is all you want from it, then all you need is an email address, a name and a URL to get started.

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Getting a good overview of your website takes time. The best analyses don’t come from a frozen moment in time – they come from analysing the trends, spikes, and dips over an extended period.

Those that sign up for an account can also access an unparalleled library of informative content, which explains how to improve on each individual element of your content marketing strategy. Did we mention this is all still free?

Tangible results

The best part about the entire Maya process is the moment after plenty of hard work when you realize it’s paid off. Your website is healthy, your content is being read: the leads are flowing.

When that’s all happened, there’s nothing more satisfying than sitting in front of the evidence that links each improvement in that process to the ultimate result. You’ve done a good job: and here’s the proof.

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If you clicked on this post thinking ‘what part of my digital marketing strategy can Maya improve’, we hope you’ve found your answer: all of it. The smallest improvement in your marketing could decide whether or not you generate your next lead. So why not make some big changes and see what the potential for improvement holds?

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