It goes without saying that Redmond is now much, much more interested in customer feedback. In fact, judging by the recent vibes, perhaps the most it has ever been. The company refined this strategy ever since Windows 8.1 was official announced.

And most leaders at Microsoft (including the outgoing CEO, Steve Ballmer) have claimed that this is the case. The software titan regularly monitors user and consumer feedback it receives for all its products, and tries to act accordingly.

Now, the company has reiterated the same idea in a little post explaining that most of the improvements that company makes are based on user opinion. The product in question is the Excel Web App, and Microsoft details just what goes into the process.

It also shared a secret formula of how it takes this feedback into account. Two primary avenues for this are the SkyDrive Customer feedback and the Office 365 customer (and company) feedback it receives:

“Office 365 has the same feedback mechanisms as SkyDrive for users, but there are also cases where we work with large companies on agreements for hundreds or even thousands of users.”

Sometimes, companies decide not to go with Office 365 (because they go with the desktop version of Office, or sometimes a competitor), and in those cases, we capture the list of any features in Excel Web that would have resulted in a successful sale.”

Below is the formula the company uses to decide on what to do next. It’s pretty scientific, if you ask me.

Feature Importance = (Competitive Standing) * (Weight X) + (SkyDrive Feedback) * (Weight Y) + (Office 365 Feedback) * (Weight Z) + (Usage Data) * (Weight P) + (Internal Factors) * (Weight R).

Obviously not everything comes from the users — several improvements come from within the company. But user feedback is more important than it has ever been:

“Every few months, we take these inputs, score each feature based on them, and then build up a formula – in Excel 🙂 – that ranks the features in terms of importance. Of course, we still apply a bit of internal ordering and weighting (for engineering efficiency, or to align with other Office initiatives, etc.), but for the most part, we work down the list based on real customer data (your feedback!).”

In fact, Windows 8.1, the first ever refresh of the company’s flagship operating platform is said to be based a lot on the feedback Microsoft received from Windows 8 – from end users, enterprise customers and even hardware makers. Brilliant!

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