Microsoft Australia Partner Awards: Up close and personal with Engage Your Customers Award

Connection is the new currency

A few years ago, I bought concert tickets from a local ticket provider, an experience in lacklustre customer engagement that continues to haunt my inbox to this day. One of my favourite bands, The Pixies, was playing at the Sydney Opera House as part of Vivid 2014 (I went – they were excellent).

In the three years since that purchase, I have browsed several similar events on this provider’s website. I have purchased more tickets and attended other shows; I’ve waitlisted myself for certain concerts; and I’ve added tickets to my cart but then realised I had a conflict and backed out.

Each time, the ticket provider, a well-known brand in Australia, has had the opportunity to collect information about my likes, dislikes, behaviours and how best to monetise me. They have oodles of data readily available.

But while they could be doing an amazing job of serving up personalised content that makes me shout “YES! Take my money!”, they instead choose to blast me with a stream of promotional material about rugby games, Meatloaf concerts and kids’ shows – entirely unrelated to who I am, what I like and what I would be likely to engage with.

Thankfully, experiences like this are becoming the exception rather than the rule, due to an increasing focus on customer engagement.

Today, connection is the new currency for business and there are so many organisations doing an excellent job of engaging their most important audiences – offering products and experiences that are useful, that inspire, and add real value to people’s lives.

Of course, many of those success stories are being driven by this community – our innovative, forward-thinking community of Microsoft partners.

This year alone, we’ve seen the pivotal role our partners have played in stories such as Bendigo Health, which built a hospital in the cloud, enabling doctors and nurses to service rural patients with the same quality of care as those who visit its physical hospital.

In the retail space, City Beach is using Dynamics 365 to collect rich insights about customers, what they’re buying, how they shop and their interaction preferences – which can then be used to curate the upcoming collections and shape the retailer’s roadmap for the future.

Further afar, Asos in the UK has brought its monolithic e-commerce platform into the modern day using Azure, doubling its Black Friday business year-on-year and creating a world-class customer experience.

It’s examples like these that make me so excited to view the entries of the Microsoft Australia Partner Awards (MAPA) in the Engage your Customer award this year.

As I’ve seen directly with the work we do in Microsoft Store, customer time is increasingly limited. Customers are searching for a space to connect with other people, not just the products they are purchasing, and every encounter should be seen as an opportunity to understand them a little better.

If you’re thinking about submitting an entry to this year’s awards, I’ve offered a few tips below to help ensure your project shines:

  • If you’ve entered a submission in the past, don’t feel like you need to snap to the template of old. Be creative, tell a story and make it modern and meaningful
  • We want to know more about what you or your customer did, and less about how you did it. Include the tech specs as an aside (and make sure it’s modern tech), but focus on the incredible outcome you created for your customer
  • The best stories are written with input from both you and your customer; their permission is a minimum

The purpose of the MAPA is to acknowledge your great work and share your stories with Microsoft, your peers in the industry and prospective customers. Good luck, thank you for entering and I look forward to seeing all your stories.



Sophie Byrne| Commercial Lead, Microsoft Stores|  Microsoft Australia & New Zealand



The submission tool is now open and will remain open until August 25 2017.


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