Eric Ligman, the Global Partner Experience Lead in the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, wrote a great article on his blog earlier this week about using search on the Microsoft Partner Network portal. I was delighted to see his post, as I have long thought that the portal search capability is often overlooked as an effective way to find content. Many long-time partners have told me they tried using portal search a couple of years ago but the results returned were just not useful; newer partners have told me they just don’t use site search in general, they prefer to do an Internet search.
Eric’s post is thorough and effective at explaining the technologies behind our portal search (it uses FAST and Bing) and demonstrating the results for some of the most frequently-searched words and phrases, so I won’t repeat his content, just encourage you to read it. But as the manager of the U.S. partner portal and the person on point for the online partner experience, I would like to complement his article by offering a few additional portal tips.
- Use the U.S. partner portal. If it does not say “United States” in the upper left-hand corner of the portal, you may miss U.S.-specific information and opportunities. The direct link to the U.S. site: https://partner.microsoft.com/US.
- Sign In with Live ID. Most partners don’t sign in to the portal until prompted, and that happens primarily when they are in the process of re-enrollment, Action Pack renewal, or doing other membership-related activity. But when you Sign In, what you subsequently do on the portal helps us understand how partners use the site and identify ways to improve the experience. For example, looking for patterns in how Registered Members differ from Certified Partners in using the site or what Action Pack Subscribers do most frequently on the site helps me make decisions about what to surface on the home page, or how to update content so a page better explains a topic or opportunity and is better represented in search.
- Flag both good and bad portal experiences. When was the last time you called the manager of a restaurant over to your table to tell him your meal and service were good? Most of us tend to give feedback only when we are frustrated and having a poor experience, because we expect to receive good service, whether dining at a restaurant or using a web site to find information or complete a task. But knowing what went well for you on the portal helps us plan and make decisions about where to invest our resources—it’s sometimes more effective to work on the “more of this” aspect. There are a few ways to give portal feedback:
- Take the pop-up Foresee survey. As you depart the portal, you may be invited to complete this survey. We have used responses from these surveys to better understand our users and what resources they find valuable.
- Use the Feedback link at the bottom of every portal page. This is an anonymous “comment card” you can use any time, from any page. I read every comment. The upside is that these take just a couple of moments to complete. The downside to these for me is that I am not able to respond directly to provide help when the comment is related to not being able to complete a task or find something.
- Send e-mail to partnerQ@microsoft.com, or direct a tweet @msuspartner. I manage both of these myself, and primarily receive requests for help with various partner-related topics. While I sometimes can respond to inquiries with an answer pretty quickly, I more often refer partners to the correct resource (most frequently, the Regional Service Center for all Partner Membership Center, membership-related items, and access issues; and Action Pack Subscription Support), or follow up with a colleague who has subject-matter expertise. The ones I find the most fun are those where the partner is looking for a specific resource or piece of information online, and I can get my Nancy Drew on to investigate and help.
I hope you will take another look at portal search as a way to quickly navigate the site and find what you need (instead of just looking for it, as Eric points out), and take advantage of the tips above to help make your online experience—and maybe even that of other partners—better.
Sr. Marketing Manager, U.S. Partner Team
Learn more about what I do at Microsoft.