Microsoft Alias Help desk
At Microsoft, valuable time needed by brand managers to think strategically and plan new ventures was slipping further away. Instead of crafting new initiatives to help move their brand forward, managers were largely occupied with issues related to its proper use, troubleshooting misuse, answering repetitive questions, and providing consultation to marketers.
Part-time outsourcing of some brand management tasks had failed to free up the managers’ time. Because such work was undertaken at several off-site locations nationwide—and with many Microsoft business units also controlling their own brands—governing the unwieldy system only added to their duties. Instead of helping, the system was undermining their goals.
Interbrand was asked to streamline and simplify the daily process of brand management by providing Microsoft with full-time, on-site support. The opportunity was to create a new system that would not only make for better use of time, but also foster a spirit of healthy brand stewardship in the process.
Interbrand believes that brand governance is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. In using a unique, multidisciplinary approach for clients across a variety of industries, we find scalability is critical to success. Client solutions must match the size of the company and the scope of the issue. At Microsoft, both were large.
That meant Interbrand needed to observe many facets of the company’s brand management processes in action, and conduct several interviews with both executives and employees responsible for deploying brand. Our analysis revealed that the family of Microsoft brands would benefit from a new home base. We saw a need to create a space where consultation would be the sole focus, customer service would be paramount, and employees, vendors, and industry partners alike could reach out with questions.
In response, we created the Microsoft Alias Help Desk—a centralized, on-site destination for brand-related questions and issues. Staffed consistently by Interbrand experts well versed in the Microsoft brand, the Help Desk provided guidance to employees for every situation they faced. Meanwhile, its intranet site enabled easy interaction with the team while providing a place for employees to access many brand guideline materials on their own.
Interbrand ensured the change did more than simply save managers’ time. A new system also meant a chance to shift perceptions within Microsoft about the purpose of brand management, and to answer frequently asked questions on a larger scale.
Instead of serving as rigid “brand cops,” Help Desk experts worked to be advocates for employees, listening to their issues and guiding them through on-brand yet flexible approaches. By tracking the quantity and nature of queries, the Brand Alias team can work closely with brand managers to clarify brand guidelines and develop new educational materials so that the answers to commonly raised issues can be found independently—ultimately cutting issues that may become systemic off at the gap.
Interbrand continues to staff the Microsoft Alias Help Desk after three highly successful years. It’s now an integral part of Microsoft’s brand team, fielding up to 350 inquiries each month across the company’s varied business groups and brands. As their knowledge has grown with day-to-day experience, Help Desk team members have been able to provide a deeper and more strategic level of service. They have made a number of significant brand decisions and contributions and, because they now require minimal oversight, brand managers are freed up to focus more on strategy and long-term planning.