Q&A: Microsoft Business Solutions to Industry Partners: Phone Home

REDMOND, Wash., March 7, 2005 — At the Worldwide Partner Conference in July 2004, Microsoft made a commitment to its industry partners: the company would provide the resources necessary for success in selling and servicing its solutions and products.

In response, Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) industry partners provided clear feedback about what they need from Microsoft to build a strong and productive partnership. Many MBS industry partners have now weighed in with specific ideas about how Microsoft can improve their experience of engaging with the broad range of resources available. Frequently heard was the call for a direct, single point of contact with Microsoft for all sales-support questions.

Dan English, General Manager, Microsoft Business Solutions

In response to these calls for better and more centralized support with greater continuity and accountability, MBS is launching the Microsoft Business Solutions Partner Resource Desk (PRD). PressPass spoke with Dan English, General Manager, Microsoft Business Solutions, to learn about the new program.

PressPass: What is the Microsoft Business Solutions Partner Resource Desk?

English: The Partner Resource Desk is a no-charge, telephone and e-mail hotline dedicated to helping Microsoft Business Solutions industry partners in the United States navigate and engage with various resources across Microsoft. We’ve talked to lots of industry partners in the U.S. and we recognize that getting the help they need from us can sometimes be frustrating. We want our industry partners to know that we understand their needs and those of our mutual customers. We care about providing industry partners the support they require to be successful and so we’re launching this new program.

The MBS Partner Resource Desk will make life easier for industry partners in a number of important ways. The toll-free PRD number provides industry partners a single point of contact at Microsoft for all of their questions pertaining to training, sales, marketing and Microsoft programs. Just pick up the phone, call PRD and we’ll connect you with the specific support resource you need at Microsoft.

We’re confident this direct line will reduce confusion and save time for industry partners in need of an answer to a pressing question. If we can’t answer the question, we’ll identify, locate and connect you to the people who can. We see this as great way to leverage all of the existing support resources at Microsoft to benefit industry partners.

PressPass: How did the PRD program come about?

English: We’re listening to industry partners. We work closely with them every day and we hear about the kinds of issues they’re facing in their businesses. There are 3,950 Microsoft Business Solutions industry partners in the U.S. These are people who are working hard to grow their business, understand their market, and utilize reference materials to show what Microsoft technology can do for their customers, stay up to date with training and follow sales leads.

We’ve learned that finding the right place at Microsoft to get their questions answered quickly and correctly is one of our industry partners’ pain points. They need simple support resources and a direct connection to information. Industry partners are very busy and need us to help them focus on the information that is most important to their success.

We’ve learned, for example, that industry partners need more help from us in the area of sales support. Well, we have a wide variety of specialized sales and technical resources and other programs to assist industry partners as they deliver services to customers. But with more than 20 industry partner support organizations and a multitude of Microsoft Business Solutions e-mail aliases, how can an industry partner get precisely the support they need right when they need it? The PRD is the answer. We know we can only be successful if our industry partners are thriving.

PressPass: What kind of questions do you expect the PRD to field?

English: Maybe an industry partner is dealing with a particular challenge in marketing their services. Perhaps they’re having some difficulty understanding one of our sales or marketing programs. Maybe they need help contacting another partner in a different region or contacting a Microsoft field resource. It could be that the industry partner needs ideas that are specific to the business problem of a given customer, so they want advice and examples of other deployments that have solved similar business problems. Answers to these kinds of questions can benefit many industry partners, not just the one with the issue today. The PRD will collect and share information so that industry partners can benefit from both Microsoft’s extensive knowledge base and the experience of their counterparts.

Some questions will require research to find the answer. In these cases, PRD will refer the industry partner to a subject matter expert at Microsoft who can help. We’ll identify and locate the help they need. For example, if we need to go to the North American Regional Operations Center or to the Pre-sales Technical support team to get the answer to a question, that’s what the PRD will do, saving the industry partner time and aggravation. The PRD will answer the question directly or ensure that the industry partner gets connected to the right resources within Microsoft. The promise of this new program is that PRD will track every question to satisfactory resolution.

PressPass: And the PRD service is available to new industry partners as well as established partners?

English: Yes, from now on, every new Microsoft Business Solutions industry partner in the U.S. will receive information about PRD in his or her Welcome Kit. In fact, someone from the PRD will contact the new industry partner to walk them through the orientation process and introduce them to the resources available to them. The PRD is planned to be available 12 hours a day, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time via phone and e-mail, and is a supplemental service in addition to any formal account management provided by a Partner Account Manager or Telesales Partner Account manager.

PressPass: You mentioned sales support as one of the key areas in which the PRD will assist industry partners. How do you see PRD support contributing to the customer experience?

English: Our priority is readiness for all our industry partners. Because by ensuring that our industry partners have the tools and resources they need to be successful with their customers, we believe we are also helping customers get the high level of service and support they need and want.

Customers rely heavily on our industry partners for effective solutions and dependable counsel. They expect partners to be experienced in a broad set of topics, offer excellent customer service, have experience that is relevant for their business and be able to demonstrate where and how they’ve achieved results for other customers.

Industry partners have a huge responsibility to do their own marketing, sales lead generation and resource planning. In order to stay on track with their goals, they need to be familiar with Microsoft programs and resources. We’re connecting the dots here. Helping our industry partners to succeed means enabling them to stand out as experts in their field with necessary sales and technical resources. Then partners can give customers all that they need to be more productive and realize the best return on their in investment in Microsoft technology. Through comprehensive support and training, and now with the Microsoft Business Solutions Partner Resource Desk, we’re providing our industry partners with sales and technical resources to help them every step of the way.

Partner Resource Desk Contact Information

The Microsoft Business Solutions Partner Resource Desk is open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time. Partners can reach the PRD by calling (800) 426-9400 (from within the U.S. only) and then dialing extension #81792.

(Contact information correct at time of publication, but subject to change.)

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