11 Lessons from Microsoft’s Initiative to Create a Sustainable Service Culture


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Guest Post by Tom Moran
Director, Customer and Partner Experience, Microsoft Operations

Microsoft Operations manages a huge portfolio of ever-changing products, business units, customers, clients, and partners.

Here are few tactics that have brought good results as we work to Build an Uplifting Service Culture:

  • Tie it all to your mission. Are you the nation’s greatest place to gather? Trying to help people and businesses realize their potential?  Building a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online? These are powerful statements and every employee needs to understand what their specific contribution means.
  • Get the senior leaders fully bought in – there is nothing more important. If they don’t walk the walk and talk the talk, it is extremely difficult to do it alone as a grassroots effort. Your efforts won’t be sustainable, you won’t change the culture, and while you may end up with some short term gains you won’t be really enabling people to create lasting change.
  • Don’t send mixed messages. This is one of the biggest mistakes I see.  Everything, whether you call it building blocks, systems or whatever, needs to be aligned. Look at your recognition programs – do they reinforce your values? Do your job postings communicate how important the customer is? Do internal communications talk about service in a consistent way? Make sure your company’s building blocks are aligned. There is one important rule – systems drive behavior… and behavior drives results.  Don’t expect different results without changing the underlying systems that drive behavior.
  • Use data to identify the most important priorities. It is easy to try to go after everything, but it does not work for results. Just pick the 2-3 service priorities that are most important and focus. If you can quickly drive success in a few key areas, you will not only make a noticeable difference for customers, you will gain the credibility needed to continue.
  • The Perception Points model is powerful – use it. It shows where each team is dependent on others to deliver a great experience. It also allows you to be intentional about the experience you want to deliver. It is easy to focus on what you specifically own, and deliver, and not on how a customer experiences what you deliver, which leads to the next point.
  • Identify core experiences that matter. Make sure somebody truly “owns” the success of those experiences end to end. Somebody should have a commitment around that experience, and it should be based on the customer’s view of the service or offering.
  • Don’t assume there is a single path for a customer. Remember that not everyone is the same – different people value different things, at different times. It is easy to try to put everyone in the same bucket, but the fact is, needs and values change. There are times when speed is more important than quality, for example. And the reverse can be true, even for the same person on the same day. Simply said, to create value, you need to understand what it is that someone values.
  • The Six Levels of Service model is magic – it makes it super simple to communicate why we need to keep pushing the bar. We have to constantly step up in order to exceed expectations – and it is quite eye-opening when people realize that today’s excellence is tomorrow’s mediocrity.
  • Make sure people have something measurable to achieve and be recognized for achieving. They and their managers need to be committed, rewarded and recognized. People want to do great work, they want to know they make an impact that is measurable and appreciated.
  • Find advocates or champions in other parts of your organization. You can’t do this all by yourself. And in the same vein as the saying “death by a thousand cuts”, great service is accomplished by thousands of small actions. Besides the immediate benefit of additional reach, this helps develop the broad leadership skills necessary throughout your organization to drive future success.
  • Finally, keep it simple!

Disclaimer – Microsoft is a client of Uplifting Service. The models and tools which Tom refers to above are taught in the Uplifting Service Courses. Click here to learn more about these courses.

Categories: Service Culture
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7 Responses

  1. Asif Ahmad Khan says:

    These lessons are superb guidelines.

  2. Imtiaz ahmed says:

    Facts have been explored but one question about change by thousands of actions. If an Organisation is in a transition phase, not only marginal but a paradigm shift. Where only one percent of total employees are driving change and others are resisting or spreading bad words, rumours and backbiting etc, then what to do ?

  3. Raju says:

    The knowledge bank at upyourservice.com is incomparable. It all depends upon individuals, how much they can grab. I am have been following Ron since Year 2000 and am a big fan of him.

  4. Naresh Vassudhev says:

    Very nice! Thanks.

  5. Robin says:

    Great article, great points! Especially love the reminder not to expect results if you don’t change the underlying systems.

  6. Smita says:

    I like the way the importance of Perception Points is hi-lighted – “It is easy to focus on what you specifically own, and deliver, and not on how a customer experiences what you deliver” – so true!!

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