Connecting customers with product teams, via Microsoft Connect

Yesterday I posted how the Dynamics team listens to the voice of the customer, with Speak Your Mind.  Today, a look back at some of the various ways product teams get feedback from customers in my previous post, Microsoft Product Feedback Links, and in particular, Microsoft Connect.  Laurentiu Cristofor noted in his blog a couple of the most popular sites on MSDN and TechNet, including:

imageClicking on the link to the MSDN Product Feedback Center now takes you to   Microsoft Connect. Many product teams across the company now use Connect to connect with their customers, manage beta releases and customer TAPs, and gather feedback from a huge community of customers and partners. 

Corey Snow posted an overview on the rollout of the Connect site, answering essentially “why connect?”

“The Connect team’s motto and vision is “Collaborate with every customer”, meaning that if Microsoft Connect works perfectly, it should be possible for Microsoft product teams to get feedback from every single one of our customers that wants to provide it and respond to that feedback in a manner that is meaningful.”

Visit this page to read more about the recent updates and changes to the Microsoft Connect site, where customers can report bugs, make feature or improvement suggestions, and connect with product teams and other customers. 

Once you have registered and signed into Connect, go to the get started page to learn how to participate on Connect, by downloading the latest software and documentation, and providing feedback through the online forums and surveys. You can send feedback either by submitting a new item or voting on an issue already reported by another customer. (You can use the search tools on Connect to see if an issue has already been reported.)  If you find your issue in the search results list, you can give it more weight by voting on it. 

Once logged in, you you can provide feedback on a specific Microsoft product by visiting the product directory page and look for the appropriate product name. 

And as Glenn posted previously, the Connect team also uses Connect to collaborate with customers on the Connect site and service itself.  You can share comments, report bugs, and offer suggestions on Connect through the new “Connection” at As the team says about their own use of Connect to improve the service…

“…let us emphasize the importance of VOTING on bugs!  We triage all bugs daily and use the voting to prioritize all submitted bugs. So once again, VOTE on a bug if it’s important to you.”

You can also participate in a usability survey as the Connect team makes improvements to the site and workflow.

Feedback is a two-way street, and Connect is one of the ways that teams manage at scale the connection, and in a way that accommodates the size and scope of Microsoft products.  It’s hard for a team to have direct one-on-one discussions with all of our customers and partners (we do have many direct discussions, but in smaller forums than Connect can serve), and Connect helps teams make the connection.

Corey again summarized the importance of how we listen and respond in a proactive and meaningful way…

“Feedback, in order to be useful, must be two-way. A person using a product that finds a bug might report it and never hear anything again, simply because it’s one of 10 thousand bug reports filed against the same product. That’s not feedback. The very definition of the term “feedback” implies that the loop must be closed, that there is some sort of response that lets the person who submitted that bug report that yes, it was receieved and acted upon- even if it’s not a personal response, they should at least be made aware of the fact that they’re not expending energy by throwing bug reports into a bit bucket.

“So, coming back to the original point about reinventing wheels- the reason I started talking about the closed loop of feedback is because that loop must be closed from *both* sides. It’s not just about providing tools for Microsoft customers to communicate with Microsoft, but also for the people at Microsoft to be able to effectively manage and respond to that communication…

“The point of Connect is not to reinvent any wheels, but rather to synthesize the best things we’ve found in the various beta and feedback sites Microsoft has had in the past, while trying to eliminate some of the problems that have been barriers to adoption, both internally and externally. In order for that feedback loop to be closed properly, the toolset has to work as well for the people at Microsoft as it does for our customers, or it simply breaks down in an avalanche of data that is impossible to manage.”

On that note, I’ll take a look at some of the avalanche of data later this week with a look at Windows Error Reporting (aka Watson).

Tags: Microsoft, CTP, Microsoft Connect, feedback.