Today we are talking with Rich Kaplan, CVP Customer Partner and Advocacy, Customer Service and Support

 

Tell us a bit about your career and how it brought you to where you are today?     

19 years ago, when I first started working with Microsoft’s customers as a Technical Consultant, creating a great “customer experience” wasn’t on the top of my mind.   At the time, I was just excited to have landed a job where I could indulge my love for technology, surrounded by other technology geeks and cool software.   Over the years, however, my understanding of the customer perspective expanded as did Microsoft culture.  My career experiences evolved through roles such as General Manager of PacWest Sales to running part of Windows Marketing/Enterprise Marketing.   In 1998, my passion for impacting the customer experience crystallized.    Microsoft put me in charge of leading a cross-company response to Y2K – a HUGE problem with the potential to massively impact our global customers.  I learned on the job, building my customer advocacy skills through constant debate with senior executives on approach and customer impact.  In the end, there was essentially no impact to customers and I learned a great lesson:  Company success and most importantly, our customers’ success, depends on taking the time to understand the customer experience and making it better.   That brings me to my current passion and role with the Customer Service and Support organization where we touch millions of customers and partners every year, around the globe.

 

 

What is Customer Partner Advocacy?

The Customer Partner Advocacy group falls within the Customer Services and Support organization.   100% customer focused, every single employee is an advocate for our customers.  Our team has two main functions:  1.) We develop a culture of accountability for the Customer Partner Experience (CPE).    We do that by making sure that each Microsoft business measures customer and partner satisfaction, analyzes data for top drivers of dissatisfaction, develops actions to address and links results to compensation.    We also provide Voice of the Customer analytics on Microsoft products and programs to influence changes  2.) We manage global contact center operations for customers and partners.  This also includes partner outreach through providing regularly online seminars and education on new technologies.

 

 

Tell me about some of the programs that you are focused on for our CPE (Customer Partner Experience) Efforts

Customer Advocacy Review Board – Weekly, we review customer issues impacting sales, deployments or installed product.   As an advocate you have to dig deep to understand and represent the issues. We review impact,  brainstorm solutions and advocate across the company for changes including software updates, improved guidance on how to deploy technology, or a policy changes.   

 

Top Issues Mail to Executive Staff – Through analytics of listening systems (social media, http://answers.microsoft.com, the field and Partners), we publish to Microsoft executives the top issues and actions required to improve the customer experience.

  

 

What’s next?

We are always looking for people passionate about customers and partners, who are willing to be strong advocates.  This year, Microsoft will launch many great products.  It’s more important than ever that we anticipate and mitigate potential issues and listen and fix existing ones.   Individuals who provide deep technical expertise, understand trends such as social media, have strong communication skills, and are willing to dive in and answer the tough questions make great leaders in our organization.

 

 

What sites/blogs do you frequent or recommend?

I find the engineering windows 7 Blog to be interesting and for those wanting to know what is going on in Windows I would suggest you follow.  http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/ .  I have also been using the Twendz beta to follow topics during the day at http://twendz.waggeneredstrom.com/There is also a small group of what we call MVP(Most Valuable Professionals)  who are enthusiasts and partners and they are a great group to get feedback from and I find them at http://msmvps.com/blogs/.   Those three platforms along with my facebook account are Great ways to keep up to date.   

 

 

What’s this I hear about your License Plate?   

Well it is related to the Harry Potter Book Series and I love it because people smile when they read it. And yes I have read all the books and yes, I will be going to the movie this week!  I will let you guess what it says.    But if you see a car in Seattle with “Harry Potter” plates.  Give a wave.