Editor’s note: Bernard Brenner is senior director, modern work, security/compliance/identity and social intelligence research, Microsoft. He is based in Redmond, Wash. 

Developing fresh, innovative ways to harness customer insight is a top priority for the Research + Insights (R + I) team at Microsoft. We are on a continuous quest to pioneer new ways of gathering timely, affordable, unbiased customer insights, which allow for quicker business decision-making. The social satisfaction methodology is an approach to understanding the voice-of-the-customer that can be applied across any products or services. This methodology leverages social media data, collected across various platforms (Twitter, Reddit, blogs/forums, customer reviews, etc.), that is then mined to understand the themes driving positive and negative experiences with Microsoft products and services in real-time. 

There are several advantages to using the social satisfaction methodology over traditional research methods, primarily time and cost. Using traditional marketing research techniques, a product satisfaction study would take about two months to complete and cost nearly $250,000. Using a social satisfaction study offers not only a comprehensive and descriptive look at the same topic, but it also cuts down on the opportunity cost of waiting for insights to influence strategy and execution. We can provide answers in a couple of weeks for about $15K-$20K.

Additionally, the social satisfaction method utilizes the organic, unprompted, voice of the customer to offer more tangible and descriptive insights on likes and dislikes of the product experience. In traditional research, the design of the questionnaire can limit product feedback, creating survey bias that accompanies every study we deploy. The beauty of social data is that a structured question is never even posed. It uses query logic to find and analyze organic customer conversatio...