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Employee Experience platform offering grows with new Microsoft Viva modules

I’m writing this post because I am working on a new trend report covering the subject: Employee Customer Experience Connection. So I have an interest in new developments in related fields and I also want to use these posts as a way to collate all these new developments so I can add them to the trend report as I go. I also am working with and advising customers in this space through my role at Microsoft (disclosure).

Viva Goals

So the first new concrete addition to the Microsoft Viva platform is Viva Goals, which was announced publicly a few weeks back. But this has been in the pipeline ever since and as a result of the Ally acquisition last year.

At left is the video heralding the announcement and it has a demo to show what it’s all about.

In a nutshell, Viva Goals incorporates OKR functionality into the platform. OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results.

This is an extremely important addition that makes concrete sense for a company that wants to manage business outcomes more holistically. OKR’s is a way to set and track company goals and trickle them down into smaller outcomes (key results) and throughout the organisation to those responsible for achieving them.

I have been using Ally in its existing form only as a way to test the functionality. I’m really impressed with how simple it is made and they also provide good, templated solutions to help create your own.

I think when it comes to good use of an OKR tool, the devil is in the details and it is how you word the OKR’s and how you tangibly create goals that are achievable and realistic that matters. This is as much art as science but the good thing is you can track effectiveness and get better over time.

Glint

It’s no secret that Glint, a similar Microsoft acquisition through LinkedIn, and Viva play nice together and there is much value to be gained in its eventual and complete integration.

In this video from a year ago you see how Glint can integrate especially well with Viva Insights.

Glint is more than just a survey tool but essentially it is used to manage qualitative feedback from employees. Marrying the outcomes from this to more quantitative measures like you would get from Viva Insights makes the combination super powerful.

It is going to be excellent to see how this area of the employee experience evolves as it is a key addition to the Viva platform.

What’s next

Obviously, I cannot say all that I know, suffice it to say that key business scenarios are going to play a leading role.

Imagine aligning Insights to specific functions like sales as I have already described here based on recent work I did and am still doing: Microsoft 365 customer questions – Sales Productivity.

The scenarios described in the post above are pretty clear I hope but you should understand they are cobbled together solutions at the moment. Far better will be when they are integrated fully into the Viva suite.

I’ll say no more than that for now, indeed I can’t. But watch this space 👀

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Features that delight – mostly – chat to self

No I’m not going mad. As the old adage says, the first sign of madness is talking to yourself. Thankfully, there is this BBC Science Focus magazine’s perfunctory dismissal of that and anyway, that’s not my point. I’m referring to text based chat, be it on mobile or PC and regardless of App, which is booming for both consumers and in the workplace.

I tried ages ago to find out if I could have a conversation with myself on WhatsApp. Turns out you can but it’s a right royal pain to activate. Also, its not persistent between devices, i.e. when I message myself on the phone, I expect to see that same message on my desktop App. That doesn’t work. See below how with the same profile, different messages between PC and iPhone based messages are shown.

Click to enlarge

I tried it on Facebook Messenger and it works – but this is an App I rarely use so no good for me. I need it where I conduct the majority of my personal conversations which is in WhatsApp.

One thing I got excited about concerning my workplace chatting which is predominantly in Microsoft Teams, is that the function is coming to Teams: Announcement by Microsoft Product Manager on LinkedIn. But it is not persistent on mobile yet 😢

I could look at a dedicated App but I don’t want another App like the interesting looking Talk to Myself App. I want to do it all in the Apps I already use heavily for personal or work purposes.

I guess all this begs the question why I want to even do this?

Main purpose and why

  1. Quick sharing between devices. Yes I could use something like Collections in Edge for links, but that doesn’t work for files so easily – they are getting a new Drop function I need to check out. For files I could use OneDrive and for notes I could use OneNote. This leads me to a second point.
  2. Because I spend so much time in chat, I don’t want to have to leave chat to open another App. Less context switching, which places a burden on ease of use, would be a boon.
  3. Journaling has many known benefits (just do a search for any number of good articles on this) but doing it in chat would be sooooo beneficial for reasons already mentioned. Check out the Talk to Myself App mentioned above on how journaling could work in a chat App. Love the tagging function especially for simple categorisation.
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Microsoft 365 customer questions – Service BOTs in Teams

I work in the business of dealing with customer questions on Microsoft 365 all the time (disclosure), either directly or indirectly. This is part of a series of posts where I share them if they can be of help to others. Where I can of course and naturally, not just the questions but the answers too. All questions and answers strive to respect both sides sensitivities (parts will have been redacted and/or anonymised) and the main topic is covered in each post title.

Question:

Can you help us to overcome a challenge our users face in how they currently access IT and HR related information, FAQ’s and create support tickets covering issues in both areas or departments?

Answer:

For the answer it is probably best to just share the two slides I used to capture the issue and challenge (in the first) and then position a solution or set of potential solutions (in the second). Below the slides, links to main solution options.

  1. ServiceNow: For how to integrate ServiceNow into Teams, start here. Universal request shows how you can incorporate cross department ticket transfers.
  2. Moveworks: More on the solution here, demo here.
  3. FAQ+: All info here, get it on GitHub here.

The customer has not yet fully decided in which direction to go and as that happens I will bring the input in here, where permissible. In the meantime, hopefully the above helps to frame things and aids decision making.

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Features that delight – reminders in context – Microsoft Teams

One of the big bets on Microsoft Teams that the CEO himself has articulated (see this post) is that it becomes a “platform as significant as the internet browser, or a computer operating system”. One key outcome of this is that if Teams does become as pervasive as this suggests and the tool where all work is done as Microsoft positions it (disclosure), then it also aids in reducing context switching.

Context switching in relation to the use of Apps is when you use multiple Apps and have to jump between them and in the process you lose context and productivity. With Teams as a platform where you can incorporate multiple Apps into it and moreover collaborate around the Apps, there is less need to switch. As Microsoft positions it: Stay in the flow of work with new collaborative apps for Microsoft Teams.

All of which is to say this theory does hold water for me in the form of a reminder App I use in Teams where I spend most of my working day. There are several Apps for this in the Teams store and I tested them all, this one is the simplest I found: Reminders for Microsoft Teams (teamsreminder.app). Here’s how it works in Teams chat.

Super simple and the only improvement I would have liked would be not to have to use the inverted commas, just natural language like some of the others. But this is minor and the added possibilities more than make up for that. Those stem from the ability to use the App in Team Channels and to involve others, as in the example below.

There are more functions, check them out on the site, e.g. reminding yourself to follow up on a message or thread. I love the simplicity of the pricing too and the low cost. These kinds of things make all the difference.

Most of all, it works seamlessly alongside all of the conversations and collaboration I conduct on Teams and really embeds itself into my flow of work.

The concept refers to far bigger and more complex Apps but it’s with these that you often find the most value.

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3 reasons retailers are leading at the intersection of employee and customer experience

As the featured image suggests, this is a thought rocket, some sensemaking on the fly – essentially some quick thoughts on a recent development, announcement, etc.

This post is related to a trend I am watching: Employee Customer Experience Connection. My thinking is captured in the title, in essence. It came to me on discovering the video from Samsung after which I have also added some additional thoughts:

This is really inspiring and makes total sense. It’s well within the realm of the possible so I don’t think this is just marketing fluff.

I dug a little deeper and found this article: Here’s how retailers can improve employee and customer experiences.

So clearly the hero’s of this video are Scandit technology and the Galaxy XCover Pro. But Microsoft Teams on which I work a lot (disclosure) also cracks a nod in the article.

That makes total sense and Microsoft is doing a lot of work with retailers on this – check this video out showing how the venerable institution that is Marks & Spencer in the UK, is using Teams to support their frontline workers.

Here’s why retailers are leading

  1. Frontline workers often kept things afloat and profitable during the pandemic and are the face of employee experience (EX) and customer experience (CX). It’s where the rubber hits the road. Frontline workers in retail (unlike in manufacturing) are interacting with customers all the time – there really does have to be a meeting of these two experience connections as I have posited in the trend that I am watching – see infographic below which I created for this. The Samsung video really illustrates this superbly for this industry specifically.
  2. In 2022, labour shortages in general but acutely for this industry will force organisations to take a closer look at the intersection of their experience data. They will need to optimise these experiences to wring out every possible efficiency in an highly pressured and competitive environment – those that do so will win. The way to do it is through insight as to how the company is delivering through and for these two critical stakeholder groups – employee and customer.
  3. Employees want what customers already have – consumer grade experiences. And nowhere is it more evident than in retail and especially when online shopping has also exploded. So consumers have become expert at using digital to enhance their shopping experience. Employees had better be up to the same level and need/want to be – often customers in store will confront employees with the fruits of their expertise and knowledge. Internal employee tools are often not up to scratch but that is changing – see the M&S experience and how vendors like Microsoft are beefing up their support to the retail industry.

I’ve also written about the retail industry in a special section of my latest trend report – you can find out more about that and get the report by hitting the button:

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How to run a Hackathon for Microsoft Teams and Power Platform

I’ve decided, while I work in the business of dealing with customers questions on Microsoft 365 all the time (disclosure), either directly or indirectly, I might as well share them if they can be of help to others. Where I can of course and naturally, not just the questions but the answers too. All questions and answers respect both sides sensitivities. This is where I started the activity and this post uses a slightly different format but is essentially the same approach.

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Considering Microsoft Teams as a Platform – get started with App templates

In several foundational pieces I have written about Microsoft Teams as a Platform (disclosure). This post gets to some of the detail and focuses on a simple way to get started with use of App templates in Teams. This is a big focus of my work with customers at the moment and I give an overview of the App template library and then dive into two popular Apps.

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Mindfulness in the enterprise – enlightenment attained

For good reason (escalated by the COVID-19 pandemic), enterprises realise they need to ensure employee’s mental wellbeing is taken care of. Also that employees are helped to better take care of themselves. It’s in the enterprise’s interest. Activities geared to supporting them are booming and IT and HR departments are driving them. Mindfulness practice is an important aspect but there is more.

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The reinvention of normal at work

There are key activities and those leading them at the heart of the changes happening at work as a result of the pandemic. Some are quick to adopt them and others not. Then there are those that will unfortunately not survive. Activities focus on events, remote work and learning.

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The hidden cost of complexity in enterprise software

It’s an unfortunate side effect of growth that when your enterprise software goes hyperscale in a growing market, you will need to accommodate an ever expanding set of customer demands for new functionality. Doing so fends of competition but adds complexity and friction to the user experience. It can even be counter-productive and lead to slowing growth or churn.

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How to make your activities pop in Microsoft Teams 💥

I’m often asked by customers how they can make things stand out in their Teams activities. It’s often when things have taken off on Teams in their organisation and activities starts to explode. Standing out when things are quiet is easy, when there is a flood of information and messaging, not so much. So I’ve put this simple little post together to show how I and others who are good at it, try make things stand out.

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Balance customer success at scale with high touch when new demand spikes

I’m extremely lucky to work in a space that supports remote working, where demand is booming. COVID-19 has driven demand in the opposite direction for many, effecting their very existing. For the lucky few, it can also be something of a double edged sword. Supporting your customers the right way regardless, is crucial.

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