Fixing Nagging Problems with RMtP
- By Scott Bekker
- March 01, 2007
The Microsoft brand name is a big boost -- most of the time. You've told
us it raises the profile of your company, it gets your foot in the door
and it associates your company in customers' minds with effective products.
But there are times when that name carries baggage with customers --
and we're not talking about general references to the "Evil Empire" and
such. Sometimes you find yourself talking to a customer who has a specific
problem with a Microsoft product or license that pre-dates your firm's
involvement or involves an area of the partner's infrastructure that you
Enter a support program, called Response Management through Partner
(RMtP), which gives partners a chance to be heroes. When a customer's
efforts to resolve an issue online or through telephone support have failed,
this program gives partners an avenue to escalate customer's problems
and frustrations within Microsoft and get the issues resolved or acknowledged.
Todd Weatherby, general manager for the Partner Systems Analysis Team
in the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, says the most common questions
involve licensing and security. "We had [partners] out there taking the
heat on those things saying, 'Look, customers complain to me about licensing.
I don't sell this product, but I want to help [these] guys. Where do I
The program is available to Certified and Gold Certified Partners, who
can access the online form from the password-protected Microsoft Partner
Portal. Under the "Support and Security" tab, RMtP is listed as "Issue
Resolution" under the "support" heading.
The tool employs the same issue resolution process that Microsoft uses
internally. Issues go to the Microsoft Response Management Team, which
promises a reply within one business day. A complete resolution is typical
within three days, according to the company.
The program is intended for certain issues and not for others. Microsoft
encourages partners to use the secure, confidential form to submit customers':
- Complaints about software bugs or product functionality problems
- Suggestions for new product features
- Issues with Microsoft licensing
- Concerns about sales or marketing campaigns
- Issues with account management
On the other hand, RMtP is not intended for questions about the Microsoft
Partner Program, complaints about the Microsoft Partner Portal, pre-sales
or competitive questions or post-sales deployment. Other Microsoft systems
exist for those concerns.
Speaking of customer satisfaction, we've heard that
since assuming responsibility for the Microsoft Partner
Program, Microsoft Chief Operating Officer Kevin Turner
is very interested in how satisfied customers are with
While Microsoft is known as a metrics-obsessed company,
Microsoft's data on customer satisfaction with partners
is relatively thin. When Turner picked up responsibility
for the partner program, Microsoft had customer satisfaction
data on about 2,000 of its 350,000+ partner program
Keep an eye out for an increased push from Microsoft
to find out how satisfied your customers are with your
firm's services and solutions. -- S.B.
When the tool launched in 2005, Microsoft's expectations were modest.
"We thought if we can do better than 50 percent in terms of actually getting
a win for the customer, that would be great," Weatherby says. "It turns
out there was so much misunderstanding that just clearing up the misunderstandings
lets us resolve for the customer most of the time. It's up over 90 percent
Beyond helping customers and improving partners' stature with those
customers, the tool has been useful for Microsoft as well.
Says Weatherby: "It really helps us on understanding where the breakdown
is and understanding [the] complexity of our licensing system, and how
we get the answers to the partners and the customers more quickly."
Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.