This is a continuation of a previous post where I spoke about the role of Windows Error Reporting (WER) in Essential Business Server (EBS).
Today, I'll be discussing Customer Experience Improvement Program (CEIP) in EBS. Before working at Microsoft, I never really understood what this meant. Various Microsoft applications ask for everyone's participation during setup or later in the program.
A cursory examination of the legalese text sounds somewhat ominous. "Send data to Microsoft? No way!" probably answer many users. I hope that by the end of this post, you will understand exactly what kind of data we are collecting, and why we are collecting it.
First of all, why do we have this program, and why do we want this data?
At Microsoft, we try our best to determine which features and UI design would best suit user needs. We perform usability studies, conduct other research, and take in customer feedback. However, the best feedback we can get on our products is from the actual users.
Have you ever hit an error dialog box that could have been avoided if only the UI were designed differently? Have you ever wished you could tell the developers which features you use the most, and which ones you avoid because they are troublesome to use? That is why the CEIP program was developed at Microsoft and why we use it in EBS.
The Customer Experience Improvement Program (a mouth-full) is exactly what the name implies; It's a program to improve our products (or "customer experience" as they call it) by collecting anonymous data about how our products are used by actual people. We try to collect data (the kind of data is described later on) that helps us answer specific questions (called "Business Questions") that we can use to improve the next version of the product.
Here are some of the Business Questions we might try to answer about our EBS Admin Console:
Knowing how our product is used helps us update the next release to meet the needs of real customers.
We collect many types of data, but it basically boils down to a few basic kinds:
Every piece of data that we collect needs to go through a stringent process here at Microsoft to check that the data we are collecting is anonymous and non-confidential. For example, getting string data approved is very difficult. You have to show that it will never contain personal information, a high bar – so we usually choose other ways to help us make product decisions to improve the product.
For example, say we wanted to know if we made the user name text box big enough in our New User Wizard. Instead of collecting the usernames, which is personal information, we could collect the lengths of user names entered.
Here are some examples of data we might typically collect from a component in EBS, such as the New User Wizard. (These might not be the exact measurements we collect, but they are measures typical of the ones we make in EBS.)
This was somewhat addressed above, but there are a lot of things we can do with this data.
In EBS, there are 2 places where you can configure your participation:
First, there is the setup page:
This is the best place to opt-in because then we can gather information about what your setup experience was like, any errors and, possibly, retries you experienced when setting up our product.
After setup, you can configure this setting in the Admin Console:
If you didn't opt-in in setup, you can still start at any time. We really appreciate the feedback from those that choose to participate! By participating, you are helping us improve the software you use every day - improving it in the way that helps you the most.
If you have any questions or comments about the Customer Experience Improvement Program or Windows Error Reporting, please leave comments below, and I'll try to respond in a timely manner.