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Awards case study: Find out how Microsoft nabbed the award for ‘Best customer engagement initiative’

Learn how Microsoft scored the award for ‘Best customer engagement initiative’ with an integrated tech stack for collaboration, seamless communication and a customer recruiting strategy. 

About the client 

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. As a multinational corporation, Microsoft develops, licenses, sells and supports computer software and services with an annual revenue of US$125.8 billion in 2019. Microsoft Services is a $5B global division that enables global enterprises to become Digital leaders in their industries by delivering trusted advisor consulting and technology implementations for their Digital Transformation (DT) needs.

Specific issues or challenges to be addressed

In 2016, Microsoft identified three marketing imperatives that it needed to do to tackle the DT market:

  1. Elevate conversations at the C-Suite: Its relationships were stronger with the customer Technology Decision Maker (TDM) who were not close to the disruptive forces in their industries. To truly help customers be successful Microsoft needs to connect with the customer Business Decision Markers (BDM) specifically at the C-Suite & Board level.
  2. To earn the right to connect with the required BDM relationships, it needed a cultural shift: from a know-it-all culture to a learn-it-all culture where it is extremely customer obsessed with a deep growth mindset with a bias for action. This cultural shift will help us understand its customers better and better serve them.
  3. To truly serve its customers, Microsoft has to evolve at scale: from a technology vendor to a trusted advisor for DT by demonstrating the business value across its global footprint in all its priority industries.

The Target audience

C-suite BDMs from Global Enterprises with DT needs across its global footprint in all its priority industries.

The martech solution 

Its solution was a Marketing-and-technology programme inspired by the learning environment that elite startups from influential incubators like Y-Combinator create by bringing a cohort of early-stage Founders, an Advisory board of VCs and successful entrepreneurs who are all deeply vested in each other’s success.

The Microsoft Services Executive Board (SEB) was formed in 2016 with 10 C suite customers who are partnering with us on their Digital Transformation. The SEB would advise its executive leadership on current and forward-looking business challenges and would meet twice a year for 2.5 days. This would have its C-level customers all of whom run multi-billion $ global enterprises take their time away from their work to travel to meet with their peers (other Microsoft C-level customers) to learn from each other and guide us on Microsoft’s challenges. And as they helped solve its problems, they would in turn make us better equipped to empower them achieve their best.

This symbiotic learning-based customer engagement programme was the martech solution, Microsoft believed would help us solve the problems we were trying to address. 


The programme itself required 6 elements to be orchestrated to be successful:

  1. Executive sponsorship & Budget from the Corporate vice president whose engagement unlocked the budgets and support from her directs across Delivery, Technology, Operations and Sales.
  2. Customer Recruiting Strategy for the right-fit, for which they invented a multi-attribute decision analysis model that scored customer nomination across 18 proprietary attributes (See Figure 2.2) and provided us with an analytic language to be objective in its  decision making, and push back on potentially sticky political situations which would rise occasionally since top customers, sales, executives and quota come together.
  3. Experience & Content Strategy was created by a dedicated program team in-tune with the industry trends, Microsoft vision and Divisional strategies.
  4. Accountability & Follow Up with SLT & SEB through a detailed report that captured the insights, identify the accountabilities and the owner to accelerate follow-up and track business impact.
  5. Integrated Tech stack for Collaboration, Communication, Automation and Analytics in the backend to support the SEB programme. This includes an exclusive mobile app for meeting agenda, past/present presentations and real-time polling integrated with Powerpoint. The Live polling integration was a critical innovation to hear the voice of every single customer while minimising biases in answers.

Impact on the business

Over the last 3 years Microsoft saw impact on all 3 challenges it sought to accomplish. Microsoft elevated its conversation at the C-suite tripling its  C-Suite membership, while consciously improved its  “learn-it-all” culture, measured by quantity and quality of insights shown by tangible actions implemented by the business from the SEB. and having a near-perfect coverage, across industries and areas

“The SEB is a great feedback loop to learn from our customers and them to learn from us so we can apply that together.”

Laura Longcore, VP Data & AI Microsoft Services

Elevation Awards 

The B2B Marketing Elevation Awards is the US sister awards program of the B2B Marketing Awards held annually in London. This submission won for ‘Best customer engagement inititative.’

Find out who made the shortlist here!

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