Bing Ads is a pay-per-click advertising service that helps businesses reach the 159 million unique searchers on the Yahoo! Bing Network. As a new entrant to the search market, first with Bing in 2009 and later with Bing Ads in 2012, one might ask how Microsoft could chip away at Google’s then 65% market share. The answer - build it Bing it faster, better and more completely, and they will come. Today Bing accounts for over 30% of searches presenting Bing Ads with a compelling story for marketers.
To attract and retain new clients to Bing Ads, Microsoft turned to customer experience veteran Susan Palmer. Strategy and Planning Program Manager for Bing Ads, Susan became addicted to turning customers into raving fans early on in her career. When she first headed to Microsoft to develop the in- store Xbox experience, her ambitious mantra that everything starts with the customer was matched by some big goals - creating great experiences at retail as well as creating raving fans. So it’s no surprise that Susan’s natural starting point for Bing Ads was to create a remarkable customer experience at scale.
Susan explains, “One of my roles in engineering was to listen to the voice of the customer, so I’d go anywhere our customers were talking about us and find out how we could make our product better. That meant engaging in social media, responding to blogs, going to industry events and really engaging one on one. What I found, though was that I’d aggregate all of the voice of the customer, and over the course of several years, I had hundreds of reports out there. I realized that it was really hard to keep track of; it would get lost in people’s inboxes, and it was hard to prioritize.”
Susan’s take: “There’s got to be an easier way to track all of this and to prioritize all this feedback. And there’s got to be an easier way to circle back with all those customers that I had talked to and say — hey remember that feature that you wanted, well we released it. Check it out.”
Susan’s first order of business was to introduce customer crowdsourcing. According to Susan, “The best and fastest way to diffuse a customer issue is to let their voice be heard. Let them express themselves, show empathy and listen. Then make it right.”
Because Susan found UserVoice so easy to set up, inexpensive and successful, she scaled up quickly. Susan adds, “Any time I need to prioritize features or ideas and I want to get it out of people’s inboxes so it is centralized and accessible from anywhere, I build a private UserVoice forum.”
From a business process perspective, Susan realized that she’d need to cultivate an empathic approach throughout the development process in order for feedback to be best realized. She figured what better way for engineers to appreciate customer feedback than to be the customer. Susan has since launched “Trade Places with an Advertiser”, a four-week immersion program where engineers assume the role of advertiser for small-business owners. With no training, the engineers must figure out how to use the Bing Ads platform, run real ads as if they were a busy small business owner and then track their pain points in UserVoice.
There’s no doubt about it; Susan’s reach has expanded both with internal teams and with end users as a result of her program. With 55% of end users subscribed to ideas, Susan now has a scalable way to engage customers through UserVoice status updates to ideas. Taking full advantage of this opportunity, Susan has expanded engagement with end users by 3.7 touch points on average. From its service and support teams to engineering to its closely held group of external advisors, Bing Ads’ approach to UserVoice Feedback™ is transforming how teams work, interact with others and realize new insights. In the case of their product advisory group, what used to be a long, asynchronous process of surveys and conference calls, Bing Ads now accomplishes in real time. By seeding the community with roadmap features, members can vote on the features most important to them as the starting point for in-person discussions. As for the “Trade Places with an Advertiser” program? Over 150 engineers have gone through the program, and Susan has 1,000 more to go so you can imagine the value of having a centralized way of tracking feedback and seeing what pain points bubble up.
At the end of the day, Susan advises, “You can turn customers and employees into raving fans. They just need to know that their voice is being heard, and that what they think matters.”
“You can turn customers and employees into raving fans. They just need to know that their voice is being heard, and that what they think matters.”Susan Palmer Strategy and Planning Program Manager