Verbatims


We spend a bit of our time interacting with customers, partners and other concerned citizens who take the time to write out some feedback. Microsoft is very customer focused and spends time working through these "verbatims" at different levels. The Connected Systems Division User Assistance team is very interested in verbatims. We love them.


But how do we love them? Let me count two of the ways in this post.


First, we love the ones with the volume cranked up to 11. These types of verbatims usually include the word "suck" or one of its more colorful synonyms. These verbatims send a clear message because they are short, erudite sound bites -- "BizTalk Server sucks!", "This help sucks!", "It sucks!" or, my favorite, "Microsoft sucks!"  Why limit the feedback to a particular product or content set when you can score one against the Man?


Some variants of "you suck" show a level of caring and/or skill on the part of the writer, adopting the words of George Carlin with sophistication and grace. Things like "*#&$^!" and "(#&$$ (#*$&$!" and "(*#& LOLZ!" Poetry, ingenious poetry. If only Walt Whitman were alive.


Unfortunately, this type of verbatim contains little that is actionable. Sure, we get that you are frustrated with a product, feature, API, writing style, tone, font size, font color, MSNBC, the Talking Heads "Remain in Light" album cover on your Zune, and smarmy blogs, but be sure to be explicit. Go ahead and use "suck" or a selection from Carlin or Pryor, but make sure you include an explicit reference to what sucks. For example:



  • "This type sucks because it is marked for internal use but you use it in one of your samples!" A fair variant would be "*&#&#! Why does sample <SupaSample> use this type when it is marked internal use only?" A citation to Pryor for the *@&# would be an awesome extra.

  • "Microsoft sucks...and so does the fifth parameter in this method because it is redundant/misspelled/not used/etc." Microsoft sucks, check. Parameter five has a problem that we can fix to improve the customer experience, check!

  • "Suck suck suck suck suck / suck suck suck suck suck suck suck / Snippet fails compile" We love haiku. This is art and information wrapped up in 17 syllables.

That last one has not, to my knowledge, actually been submitted.


We love existential comments. One day I was flicking the scroll wheel through a pile of verbatims and ran across the following:


Why won't someone help me?


Haven't we all felt this way about our computers, our lives and the universe? Why won't someone make my document print on the printer ten feet away from my office instead of in the copy room in the Kilgore, Texas branch? Why won't someone make this compile? Why can't I ski on hundred dollar bills while a DJ plays my favorite 80's tunes? Why won't someone help me?


Existential questions are poignant but not actionable without details. We want to help, we truly want to help remove the pain and angst, but unless we get some key details it is difficult. Throw in a few details:



  • "Why won't someone help me identify the best practices for this <feature>?" 

  • "Is there anyone out there who can give me a working code snippet?"

  • "What, me worry about throttling memory thresholds when running an orchestration that does <some cool task>?"

  • "Why? Why must I press cancel to accept the option for the <feature>?"

So go ahead and examine the metaphysical life of mankind in your feedback to Microsoft, but make sure to include a clear actionable item so we can do something while we ponder. Give us something to go on.


We do read your comments and ask that you send more.  In my next post, I will count a few more ways.


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