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Microsoft's mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. It develops, manufactures, licenses, supports, and sells software, hardware, and services. Microsoft employs more than 156,000 employees in more than 100 countries.
The Microsoft Learn division provides education and certification on Microsoft products to end users worldwide.
Microsoft selected UserTesting as its preferred vendor for qualitative user experience insights worldwide.
Microsoft’s Global Skilling Initiative will bring more digital skills to 25 million people worldwide by the end of the year. According to Microsoft’s calculations, global unemployment in 2020 may reach a quarter of a billion people. To help combat this issue, Microsoft offers free access to learning paths and comprehensive resources to help people develop the skills needed for in-demand jobs.
But Microsoft needed to know how to better structure its content to surface what someone needed. Microsoft’s Content and Learning team had a goal to develop a unified experience strategy and build better customer outcomes.
As Rachel Price, Senior Information Architect at Microsoft, put it, “If we could understand what some of the mechanisms are that people have in their mental models for how they might connect things together—whether it's by skill, by task, by job title—we can start building that into the user experience so we can dynamically put content together in the right ways. In ways that are meaningful for the people we're trying to help."
To do this, they needed a better understanding of who their customers are, what challenges they face, and what they need from Microsoft. “We help millions and millions and millions of people all over the world,” Price said. “If we wanted to try to segment them by demographics, we would never finish. There would just be so many little chunks. So behavioral archetypes are a way for us to step back and look at bigger, more meaningful, buckets that we can actually use to make decisions about how we structure the experience and how we string the experience together.”
With stakeholder support across the org, Horyun Song, UX Researcher at Microsoft, conducted qualitative research to develop a baseline understanding of customers from a behavioral perspective.
For this particular research, Song focused on re-engagement. Why and how do users re-engage with Docs and Learn? Which behavioral archetypes and journeys are supported and which are left out?
The team synthesized the findings into five behavior-based archetypes to help identify friction in customer journeys in order to simplify the experience. Song said, "Archetypes aren't just for product teams. They're for everyone. Our business goal is to have a shared understanding of who our customers are and what we can do for them. That includes an understanding of their behaviors, and more importantly their attitudes that explain why, which UserTesting is perfectly designed to uncover with its extremely diverse network of contributors who provide nuanced perspectives and insights, driven by their wide ranging roles, regions, demographics, psychographics, cultural and community influences like LGBTQ+, etc.
The Microsoft team shared the results on the behavioral archetypes from the research in cross-team workshops across Microsoft. Feedback from these workshops was overwhelmingly positive. “We had everything from giggles of delight at recognizing someone else who 'behaves the same way that I do'; to moans of, ‘Oh God, I knew that was an issue, but watching this person try to do it is sooo painful’,” said Price.
"Our high-level goal is to help them build empathy for their customers and transfer deep knowledge of customer needs and behaviors, whether user researchers or implementers, like PMs, engineers, designers, content developers, etc.", said Sara Lerner, Customer Research Senior Program Manager. As a result, individual teams and implementers across Microsoft are now able to leverage their research in strategic planning efforts as well as day-to-day decision-making.
Lerner said that by having this shared understanding of Microsoft customers' needs, they're more efficient in making decisions. “We waste far less time hunting for evidence to inform how to move forward. Now with UserTesting, we can get to that conversation so much faster. It's like, ‘Here are the customer challenges and experience gaps we need to solve. Now that we know why let's figure out how to create something even better.'”
Because Microsoft is such a large organization, there are initiatives happening all over the globe, by many different teams moving in different directions. Having a shared foundation of customer needs can help prevent that work from happening in silos and ensure everyone can move forward quickly as an aligned organization.
“When we make a change, it affects tens of millions of pages at a time on the content side, which impacts millions of users in a given day,” Price said. “What we've learned by working at this scale is that if we can't zoom out and come to a shared understanding of our customers, it's really hard to move forward and make changes happen quickly.” UserTesting allows a company as large and complex as Microsoft to act almost as agile and aligned as a focused startup.
Even with a tight schedule, we strive to get things right for customers. Now, we can run tests and get results the same day. I didn't imagine this was possible before we had UserTesting.
Now we can reach global audiences with a diverse cross section of people for our studies. That's important to our team.
Empathy is the answer. It's the source of human insight, innovation, and meaningful change.