Microsoft’s social intelligence team turns data into insights with Sprinklr
billion listening mentions analyzed in 2021
increase in projects completed since launch
Microsoft is a multinational technology company whose mission is to “empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” It enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. In an age of rapid transformation and communication, Microsoft employs a host of methods, tools, and teams to understand and adapt to the needs of its customers.
The Social Intelligence Practice (SIP) team sits within Microsoft’s market research organization and is charged with informing marketing and development decisions across the organization’s products and initiatives. The SIP team partners with marketing, development, and research teams across the organization to build methodologies and innovative research offerings that answer questions and meet the needs of the business, while providing additional context to the primary market research landscape.
Led by the Group Manager, Justin Schoen, and supported by Market Research Manager, Allie Webster, the SIP team’s unique approach elevates research from social listening to social intelligence. They’ve developed research methodologies that look beyond brand mentions, volume, and sentiment — expanding into industry landscape and broad conceptual context of topics, taking into account social behavior and language. This multidimensional view sets the stage for deep learning and insights that are critical in the decision-making process of teams across the organization.
In the past, the SIP team used an in-house solution to process social data, but ran into many challenges: data was not easily shared with other teams due to access and UI limitation, repairs and maintenance were slow and required extensive development time and funding, and growth of platform data was restrictive. The SIP team made the decision to re-focus on delivering social intelligence insights and search for a scalable social listening solution that:
Provides a single, unified source of truth for social listening data
Enables Microsoft to create audience segments for customized marketing campaigns
Listens and provides data and insights for Microsoft’s products and brands as well as competitive products and brands
Captures concepts critical to Microsoft's core business questions and enables easy dissemination of that information to other Microsoft teams
Microsoft’s SIP team implemented Social Listening, part of the Sprinklr Insights product suite. Backed by powerful AI and a comprehensive dataset, Social Listening has enabled the SIP team to drive forward workstreams aligned to Microsoft’s core business priorities, which range from understanding customer product perceptions to defining emerging industries and concepts. All of these are layered with the continual drive to better understand its customers and audiences.
One of those workstreams revolves around Microsoft’s hybrid work initiative, which focuses on enabling Microsoft customers and their employees to thrive in a flexible work environment.
“We know that hybrid work is something that people want,” Webster explains. “And we want to create products and environments and cultures and solutions that enable the users of our products to do that better.” Insights gleaned from the social conversation help to power the Microsoft marketing team dedicated to creating content about the new hybrid work landscape. When the initiative began, however, there wasn’t a lot of information available about the space: hybrid work was largely a concept people were considering, as COVID precautions continued and workers and companies alike navigated remote work challenges, Webster says, and there was no clear understanding of what it looked like or what people thought about it. Initially, her team drew on a broad set of mentions across social, then used pivoting features within Sprinklr’s social listening dashboard to hone in on more specific insights to help define what hybrid work was in the minds of social users.
“We listened for things that are sort of like hybrid work or that impact hybrid work or revolve in the same universe as hybrid work without knowing exactly what existed within that space,” Webster explains. Over time, as understanding of the hybrid work space grew, Webster was able to listen for more targeted topics and themes across social channels and uncover game-changing insights. For example, she discovered that the term “hybrid work” had not only become synonymous with “flexible work,” but had actually become the dominant term for the ideal state of hybrid work that users wanted to see implemented.
“And so that informed content creation for our thought leadership team,” says Webster. “It helped us to truly meet our users where they were and align Microsoft as a thought leader in the flexibility space — as opposed to limiting the hybrid workspace as we imagined it.”
Emerging Products is another key area supported by the SIP team. They leverage Sprinklr Social Listening to listen to the real-time voice of customers on social channels, as they discuss new products and product features, then provide actionable insights about those conversations back to stakeholders.
“We are always looking for insights that we can we feed back into our product marketing teams or even product engineering teams to build or create or modify in order to meet customer need, based on the context of the social conversation,” says Webster.
For any given Microsoft product, the SIP team listens to the social conversation to understand which features users are talking about or what problems they are solving. “We might ask, ‘What are the perceptions of this product in comparison to competitive products?’ Or we may look at something like social satisfaction — joy versus dislike — and how our social users are discussing it,” explains Webster. Sometimes, she says, social users may highlight a problem with a product that Microsoft needs to solve or a gap within the conversation that the product doesn't solve.
“We are primarily listening for themes,” says Webster. “What are people talking about in a product release, and what hits? Of those 20 new features we just put out, what are people most excited about, and what are the solutions that they're mentioning? What are those features that are gaining traction within the social conversation?” The SIP team easily pulls reports from the Sprinklr dashboard in order to share actionable insights with marketing and product decision-makers, who can quickly make data-driven adjustments to their strategies.
Social Listening also enables the SIP team to draw on a multitude of data sources, including product reviews, which can help to complete the picture for products that already have some time on the market, like Microsoft Teams. As Webster explains, she is able to leverage the platform to isolate likes and dislikes, both in the social conversation and in reviews, then create a scoring mechanism for social satisfaction. “We can say, ‘Here's your score for Microsoft Teams in comparison to the competitive set,” says Webster. “This has been really informative for product marketing teams who are looking to understand how they're doing against a competitive set. We are able to uncover those new features that are landing well in the competitive conversation, so that they can prioritize their product road map.”
Sprinklr listens to us. They take our suggestions seriously, and they make improvements that make the platform better. That's not something that every platform does, which really speaks to the way that we've partnered together to make it more usable for social listening analysts and day-to-day users.”
Microsoft’s SIP team provides actionable customer experience data to internal stakeholders, who use the information to help drive decisions around product and feature road maps, thought leadership, public relations, and more. Sprinklr Social Listening has replaced an in-house tool as the primary solution for this critical social research and insights team. In the first year of use by the SIP team, Sprinklr has pulled in 8.6 billion listening mentions and enabled a 100% increase in the number of projects the SIP team executes for Microsoft stakeholders.
Webster says the SIP team has been able to show sustained, long-term value to Microsoft,. “We provide clear insights that sift through the noise of mentions, retweets, and sentiment alone.”
Sprinklr has partnered closely with the SIP team to help it meet and exceed its goals — which, in turn, pushes Sprinklr to evolve the product.
“Sprinklr listens to us,” Webster says. “They take our suggestions seriously, and they make improvements that make the platform better. That's not something that every platform does, which really speaks to the way that we've partnered together to make it more usable for social listening analysts and day-to-day users.”
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