Microsoft is creating a modern support experience that focuses on identifying and remediating issues automatically, enhancing the employee experience and improving agent effectiveness.

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Microsoft is creating a modern support experience that focuses on identifying and remediating issues automatically. By enabling seamless support, generating high-quality knowledge content, providing a unified agent experience, and maintaining infrastructure and site-service excellence, employees, agents, and the company-at-large reap the benefits.

To maximize the value of digital transformation in a complex, global organization like Microsoft, it requires a new modern approach to employee support. That’s why Microsoft Digital, the organization that powers, protects, and transforms the company, is reimagining how to deliver support capabilities to the company’s employees across physical and digital interactions. This has never been more critical than in the last 18 months, as employees across the globe have been mainly working in a remote environment. The modern support experience focuses on identifying and remediating issues proactively—before employees are even aware that they exist, which allows employees to be more creative, innovative, and productive.

Enabling more seamless interaction for employees by providing them broad and inclusive access to support with in-context tools helps create an efficient and effective support environment. This approach supports hybrid work through proactive remediation capabilities that are unobtrusive to the employee workflow. Employees can expect their day-to-day issues will be automatically identified and rectified without disrupting their productivity. When employees need to engage with support, they can do so in-context by using a method that best suits them: within an application, by using a virtual agent (bot), social media, phone, email, or in-person. Support is accessible to all employees through an inclusive design that integrates with assistive technologies. Modern support is part of a broader vision for delivering the most productive employee experience possible to accelerate digital transformation internally in support of a hybrid work environment.

“In talking with our customers and partners, we are hearing that a modern digital support experience that can enable a new hybrid working environment is a priority but may seem daunting and complex,” says Trent Berghofer, senior director of Microsoft Global Support in Microsoft Digital. ”However, with a comprehensive vision-led approach and targeted investment, the results yielded can have a significant impact.”

The Microsoft Global Support team is the entry point for user-support issues. This team’s focus is on enhancing stakeholder relationships, improving workplace productivity, and ensuring a seamless employee experience. It’s a scalable group of trusted, specialized advisors who work to identify and discover solutions to business issues while providing feedback to product groups to help them create better experiences. The team uses their expertise and skills in working with a wide range of complex processes and devices, as well as managing site services, infrastructure deployments, and technologies to rapidly respond to employees to ensure productivity. Global Support outsource partners also work with internal teams as part of a seamless unit, focused on the employee experience. This multilayered team plans, learns, and adapts to changing conditions to empower employees to realize their full potential.

Transforming support at Microsoft

Although service-level metrics have traditionally been important in overall support health, the need to put greater emphasis on the employee experience—from the perspective of the employee requesting assistance to the agent providing it—has proven to be critical. It’s important to understand not only if services and tools are functioning properly, but also whether they meet employees' needs. Microsoft’s Global Support efforts focus on the two key roles that participate in support activities: employees who experience and report issues, and the support agents and technicians who track and resolve those issues.

Several factors prevent employees and agents from experiencing and delivering optimal support. The shift from a support model where work tasks are costly, complex, and require significant support intervention, to a model that creates experiences that are easily discoverable, simple, accessible, personalized, and automated greatly improves the overall dynamic. By connecting the experiences that exist today—and the ones in the future—in an end-to-end way better reflects how people want to work in context as outlined below.

Table showing frustration and pain points and solutions solving them for employees and agents.

Figure 1: Microsoft Digital is transforming the experience company employees have when they ask for help and the experience agents have while helping those employees.

Measurements

The following measurements are being used to track progress across modern support:

  • User satisfaction. A four-point scale is used to measure employee satisfaction for all aspects of the support experience. It’s measured at the transactional ticket level as well as a relational survey that is sent every six months to capture holistic employee satisfaction data.
  • Time to resolve. Measures time to resolve from an employee experience point of view with no exclusions.
  • Ticket per headcount. Reflects the number of tickets in relation to the total number of employees and contingent staff.
  • Ticket reactivations. Represents the percentage of tickets that are reactivated after they’ve been closed.
Microsoft's support pillars: Seamless support; high-quality,  intuitive knowledge support; unified agent experience; infrastructure and site-services excellence.

Figure 2: Microsoft Digital’s modern support experience is based off of these four key pillars.

Pillar 1: Seamless support

Employees need to have the most simplified and transparent support experience possible. For example, if an employee reports an issue with an app they're using, relevant data needs to be gathered proactively and, if possible, use automated tasks to help resolve the problem immediately. By using data from the employees' device, information about the current application context and other relevant data, the system supplies automated remediation tasks to resolve the issue without agent intervention. If automated remediation isn't possible, the ticketing system uses the same data to populate metadata, so that the employee request is directed to the most appropriate agent with the information needed to resolve the issue quickly.

As employees begin to go back to physical offices, Microsoft will reopen walk-in support centers by appointment only. These centers use technology for online booking and will focus on hardware related issues to minimize wait time and travel time while enabling a seamless, healthy, and safe environment with minimal changes required to our foundational design. Global Support remains committed to delivering an experience that anticipates the different ways employees need assistance while providing the flexibility and agility employees now require. Utilizing any means, the team will work to resolve the issue remotely prior to having an employee physically show up to a walk-in center.

To better manage Internet of Things (IoT) devices and conference-room assets, a strong partnership with Microsoft engineering teams is key in enabling enterprise monitoring and management capabilities such as remote access and proactive alerting for all new deployed devices.

Also, a 24-hour exclusive executive support service is designed to quickly resolve technology-related issues for our company’s leadership team and their executive assistants. Executive support services also focus and identify automation opportunities that can be applied throughout the Global Support organization. 

Key results

Seamless support investments have produced three key results:

  • Employees have more time to focus on their job because issues are automatically identified and remediated transparently on their devices. This means less interaction and time interfacing with support.
  • Employees get support anytime, anywhere, and the efficient ticketing process doesn't require a repetitive description of issues or tedious tasks.
  • Alert monitoring is on all IoT devices and conference room assets to increase proactive issue detection.

Pillar 2: High-quality, intuitive knowledge support

At Microsoft, well-informed employees have fewer issues and are empowered to seek self-remediation methods. Accordingly, high-quality improvements to the company’s knowledge systems make them easier to use, for both employees and support agents. Multiple self-help and virtual-agent modalities that automatically present to employees accurate, meaningful, and simple-to-follow content help them mitigate issues quickly.

Global Support is rethinking the company’s knowledge base to improve the experience and increase efficiency for employees and support agents. By improving knowledge-based content, documentation becomes more relevant and searchable. This decreases agent time to resolution and increases employee satisfaction. Migrating to an integrated cloud platform provides not only issue-tracking capability but also automated support processes and predictive recommendations.

Even the best content doesn't help users if they don’t understand it. Focusing on creating straightforward knowledge-based content by using the Flesch Kincaid readability standards (with a target level between 60 and 70), will help ensure a higher consumption rate for employees and agents.

It’s estimated that 77 percent of people use a search engine three times a day to search for something online, so by expanding search capabilities from a single-entry point to methods that employees are familiar with will improve their day-to-day life. Through a broad partnership across multiple teams, employees can retrieve content across multiple entry points including Bing for Business, Microsoft SharePoint, and the traditional support portal. In addition, more stringent content guidelines have been established for new knowledge-based articles, as well as examining and improving the way metadata for predictive, accurate search results are recorded and used.

Global Support resources include a broader range of media types to provide a more optimal support experience. In addition to online content, the team provides in-person and online readiness sessions that focus on adopting new Microsoft products, technologies, devices, and services. This service helps supply the contextual information and resources that employees need to be productive, creative, and innovative. Short, easily consumable on-demand guidance videos also better support individual content-consumption preferences.

New employee onboarding processes are being improved to ensure that employees are prepared for new products and services that are introduced into their workflow. In the future, a complete toolset leveraging Microsoft Viva will be available to new employees to enable them to be more productive on their first day of employment. This will be accomplished by unifying onboarding approaches, creating a consolidated content platform, and learning paths based on employee roles and business functions.

Key results

Intuitive, knowledge support efforts have produced these key benefits:

  • Support content is accessible, simple, easy to follow, and targets a broad reading level and regional context.
  • Consumption of support content is tracked and can be correlated to a reduction in employee-initiated support inquiries.
  • Day one readiness for all employees. New employees can more easily find and use knowledge content from their first day on the job.
  • Effective training programs for all employees. Employees can easily find and subscribe to high-quality training content that’s relative to the tools and services that they use in a variety of media types.

Pillar 3: Unified agent experience

Outsource partners also need the proper toolset to fix issues quickly and support Microsoft employees. To meet this goal, the team is developing and using connected tools and correlated platforms that increase information reuse and employ data pertaining to the support environment. The result will be a seamless experience for both agents and employees.

To improve the agent experience, toolsets are being made more intelligent by using machine learning and predictive analytics to enable our agents to access all the information they need to resolve an issue. Existing ticket data provides insights into the resolution process so that agents can supply the quickest resolution possible. Intelligent workflows have also been implemented that automatically present themselves to the agent. These workflows, based on issue classification, help guide the agent through the troubleshooting process with the employee and ensure a consistent, thorough process.

The ticket-resolution toolset gathers robust employee sentiment from chat experiences, call-quality data, and Yammer communities. This information helps agents understand the issue’s complete context and respond more appropriately to the initial employee contact. Agents need to enter the issue-resolution process with the greatest possible chance of success. Employee sentiment also helps Microsoft’s leadership and key stakeholders better understand the issue-resolution process and where intervention might be warranted. The data also helps product groups and partners continually improve.

Key results

Unified agent efforts have produced these key benefits:

  • A single lens for the agent. They can manage and interact with tickets from a single interface.
  • Proactive and predictive support insights. Agents can find and potentially resolve issues before they're reported by employees.
  • Single repository for support data. A single location for employee and agent data that’s accurate and relevant to respective roles.
  • Enhanced automated-support capabilities. Automation-assisted mitigation actions expedite resolution of technical issues.
  • Innovation framework. A universal, technology-assisted process now exists for sharing ideas and suggestions for resolving support issues.

Pillar 4: Infrastructure and site-services excellence

Global Support continually invests in core sites across the 110 countries and regions in which Microsoft operates, creating efficiency and value for both employees and support teams. IT site support managers are responsible for infrastructure deployment, employee and site infrastructure support, stakeholder management, readiness delivery, and crisis-management engagement.

Site support teams, with their global reach, play a key role in supporting business continuity. In many instances, the team is the only onsite IT presence providing service owners and business units with a local partner. That partner helps them better understand outage impact, minimize service disruption, and develop local business-continuity plans.

The team also supports technology in more than 500 physical buildings and more than 14,000 conference rooms worldwide where change and modernization are ongoing activities. The Infrastructure Deployment Service team provides professional project management services to deploy the IT infrastructure components for around 200 real estate projects yearly. This team is also responsible for enhancing the meeting experience in conference rooms and deploying the best Audio/Video Teams solution worldwide. This team proactively collaborates closely with Global Support personnel and with site-support managers who support the onsite activities. The team’s mandate is to align infrastructure changes, generate end-to-end oversight, and deploy standard solutions across the world to enable a greater employee’s support and productivity experience.

The implementation of a franchise model concept has empowered IT site support managers to be accountable for the delivery of remote and onsite support services portfolio. IT site support managers have access to a real-time Power BI service-metric portal that provides consolidated service health and employee satisfaction insights by geography, site, and service. The portal helps drive service improvement and employee readiness content, creating a globally consistent support experience across all service lines.

Key results

Infrastructure and site-services efforts have produced these key benefits:

  • Customer satisfaction metrics for Global Support services are met or exceeded at the geographic and site level.
  • All infrastructure projects are delivered on time, on budget, and within standards or with approved deviations.

Modern support experience benefits

The Modern Support experience at Microsoft is transforming the way employees and agents experience and provide support across the company. This environment enables employees to be creative, innovative, and productive by providing a support experience that focuses on identifying and remediating issues automatically—before employees are even aware they exist. By creating a seamless support experience, creating high-quality knowledge content, supplying a unified agent experience, and maintaining infrastructure and site-services excellence, employees' support interactions are greatly improving. This Modern Support experience gives everyone at Microsoft broad, inclusive access that empowers every person and every organization to achieve more.

Key Takeaways

Here are tips you can try as you work to transform your support experience at your company:

  • Take a vision-led and phased approach when modernizing your support experience.
  • Place greater emphasis on the employee experience when measuring your service level support metrics.
  • Provide the best support experience by detecting and remediating issues proactively before your employees report them.
  • Invest in seamless, in-context support and simple, intuitive knowledge systems to improve employee experience and efficiency.
  • Establish a listening system across the organization that can engage with your local stakeholders and employees and be accountable for support services and experience.

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