blog.frederique.harmsze.nl my world of work and user experiences

October 31, 2021

Feedback is important

Filed under: Adoption,Governance,Microsoft 365 — frederique @ 20:51

Most of us do our best, to try and offer useful solutions and help the end-users. However, nobody is perfect and no solution is perfect, especially not when it is first launched. We make mistakes, misjudge what works for the users or don’t know what is most important to them. That is why it is so important to get feedback, so that we know what to improve.

Grumbling is not helpful

I have often heard users complain about things like their digital workplace (including the SharePoint sites and Teams environments they are offered), the information and training they do or don’t get from IT, or the support they mostly don’t get from the helpdesk. When I hear these complains, I try to pick them up as feedback and pass them along to the people who could help solve these problems. But if people just complain and grumble amongst each other, nothing will get fixed.

This is really tricky: I have heard IT state that everything was just fine, because nobody had complained to them. They use the squeaky wheel system: the squeaky wheel gets the oil, and the users who squeak get help. But what if the users don’t squeak in the right way to the right people? The users I talked to had given up contacting the helpdesk, because such a contact usually took a lot of time and never solved anything. And they did not know how, where or to who to make a constructive complain, also known as give feedback. Instead, they grumbled, got upset with IT and tried to find their own tools outside of the official toolkit.

But then it has to be clear how and where you can give feedback

It has to be very clear to users how they can give feedback. And preferably there should also be different ways of giving feedback, to make it easier for the users.

Offer explicit feedback options in your communication, on your information pages, in your digital workplace. For example, I have got feedback in a feedback form that was available from any page of our information portal on Microsoft 365. That included feedback about email communication from another Operating Company that we knew nothing about. But apparently our feedback form was the first thing the user found to drop his complaint.

Also make sure that the users have someone to talk to when they have feedback: the helpdesk, who then definitely should collect the feedback and pass it along to the right people. Or champions: people who can help out colleagues, because they know more about Microsoft 365 for instance, and who can pass along feedback. Or an IT business partner. I know that when I talk to end-users, I often get valuable feedback.

Microsoft knows feedback is important

In the early days, Microsoft felt like this huge, uncommunicative black box company: we just had to accept whatever they sold us. But nowadays, Microsoft actively listens to users and the community. Instead of assuming they know best, they launch a first version: a Minimal Viable Product or MVP. And then they actively ask for feedback and develop their products based on the feedback and what the users need.

Ok, I am definitely not always happy with the MVPs, that tend to be more minimal than viable. But I am happy that they take our feedback into account. For example, I was recently able to attend several Feedback Roundtable sessions at the Microsoft Airlift conference and participate in live discussions. There are feedback buttons all over Microsoft 365. And we have User Voice to suggest improvement. But something is changing in that area.

Now Microsoft has a new feedback portal

I don’t know all the details, but I had heard that Microsoft will move from UserVoice, which is a third party site, to a feedback portal built on their own Dynamics 365. And I just saw an announcement saying that Preview of Feedback for Microsoft Teams now available. So we are definitely beyond rumours now ?

The new portal looks quite a bit like UserVoice: you can find ideas that were posted, vote and comment on them. And you can submit a new idea, now called Send feedback. Ideas from the Teams UserVoice has been transferred to the new feedback portal. Maybe not all, but at least the ones I checked. At this point, the feedback I provided via the Feedback option in Teams itself does not end up in that portal. Not yet at least. See UserVoice pages for more info about the transition.

Feedback for governance and adoption in your organisation

Feedback is important to Microsoft, because it allows them to improve their services. But it is also important for your own organisation. Maybe what needs to be improved is not, say, the functionality of Microsoft Teams, but the template, the training or the support that the organisation offers.

The “old school” feedback options in Office only send feedback to Microsoft. But in Teams the feedback forms states: “By pressing submit, your feedback will be used to improve Microsoft products and services. Your IT admin will be able to collect this data.”. This ends up in the Admin Center > Health > Product feedback; see Learn about Microsoft feedback for your organization.

Product feedback visible to the administrators in the Admin Center

Of course you should not only collect feedback, but analyse it an take action based on the feedback. Solve the issues that are flagged in the feedback and keep up what works well.

This is crucial for proper governance of Microsoft 365, or anything else: to ensure that is works and keeps working effectively, smoothly and safely. It is also crucial to help users to adopt the toolkit: make it their own. It allows the users to help you to help them, because they can tell you what works and what does not work in practice. And it also allows the users to feel and really be involved in the evolution of the environment, so that we are all in this together and we can make it work togehter.

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