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News about security updates, public updates, service packs and product lifecycle from the Microsoft Office sustained Engineering team.

What does it mean to be a world class servicing organization?

What does it mean to be a world class servicing organization?

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What does it mean to be a world class servicing organization?

Considering that I work here, I know our goal for the Office product is that I, the customer, am able to do exactly what I expect as soon as I rip open that box (or download that app, or go to that page, or ...).  However, I also know that software is complicated-to say the least...  Given how many different things it's used for, it's not completely surprising that it doesn't always do exactly what I expect.  But man I hate it when I buy stuff that doesn't work the way I expect!  Very few things frustrate me more than buying a product that's supposed to make my life better, only to discover that it really makes my life worse as I waste countless hours trying to make it work.  The wife and kids know not to mess with daddy when he's got that crazy look in his eyes and more than a few "kids, don't repeat that" words coming out of his mouth. 

If things don't work as I expect them to, it is possible to mitigate that crazy look in my eyes,  though that can only happen when I believe the manufacturer actually cares about me and wants to help me get the most out of their product.  Helping me with issues that I've discovered is a bare minimum.   Taking it a big step further and fixing issues before I've even discovered they exist can bring a happy sparkle to my eyes.  The cool thing about software is that it can continuously improve like that while I'm using it.  I don't have to drop it off at the shop to get it fixed, which is nice.

Our goal in Office is to create a happy sparkle in your eyes.  Great customer service means making the customer happy-duh.   We work hard on each new release because we really believe that it will make your life better.  If we don't quite get there out of the box, we hope to bring the happy sparkle back to your eyes by delivering on our original promise through servicing.  We describe how we deliver on that promise as completing, refining and maintaining the product over its 10-year lifespan.  So what do we mean by that?

Completing the product means ensuring that the current version provides all of the value we promised it would.  As a friend of mine once said, even the highest aspirations can't hide reality.  Our objective is to ensure that the product lives up to those aspirations.  When issues are discovered, our goal is to remedy them as quickly as possible and get the fixes into customer's hands.  Ideally, most of this will happen before the customers are even aware the problem exists.

Refining the product is a bit more subtle.  Refining boils down to engaging with customers to gain greater clarity into how they expect the product to work for them (which isn't always how we thought they wanted it to work).  In some cases this is about documentation-explaining what we intended and how you can get more from the software.  We do this through Knowledge Base articles, TechNet, and even hosting or fostering communities where knowledgeable users share ideas and thoughts.

And-if you haven't used online help in a while, you should try it. Behind the scenes, we are constantly making our topics better, and when a topic isn't helping and you click that "No, it didn't help" button at the bottom of the article, we look at those topics and work to make the information better.

In other cases, changes that result from necessary refinements might mean we need to modify how a feature works.  We always have to be especially careful when doing this though, since this tends to be larger in scope than fixing bugs, and some customers may have come to count on the existing functionality.

Finally, maintaining the product means protecting the initial quality of the product against the background of the constantly changing software ecosystem around us.  These issues are most often related to security, privacy and reliability.  There are some bad hackers out there, and while they're busy trying to get into your machine from anywhere they can, we have folks working just as hard to keep them out.  Examples might include responding to a newly discovered security threat, providing e-mail filters to ensure that customers can continue to use email with the same level of privacy and security that they are used to, or updating functionality to remain compatible with a more recently released version of software.  We think maintaining the value of your software over time is one of the most important features Microsoft offers.  Of course, we're a bit biased.

So, while we are always working on the next release of the Office suite, we are also maintaining the multiple versions that are still within their 10 year lifecycle.  Within the first 5 years of a product's lifecycle, we are working with our customers to complete, refine, and maintain the product to make it the best it can be.  We then continue to maintain the product for another 5 years. 

This is our way of ensuring that the total value proposition for each version of Office is a good one, and that daddy doesn't have to use too many of the "kids don't repeat that" words while working on his computer.  Isn't that what we all want?

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