Although Microsoft gets a lot of bad press for being predatory and sneaky (and for ruining really good products), we don’t hear much about how hard they work to achieve visibility or how that visibility leads customers to trust them and buy from them.
Visibility, in its new millenia sense, refers to how open you are to letting others see how you work on the inside – like what California Pizza achieves by keeping a big window in front of its kitchens so customers can watch the chefs spin pizza pies in the air. When, in the early 1980s, Bill Gates hid from IBM his intention to license MS-DOS to other PC makers, he clearly didn’t have visibility on his mind and earned himself a reputation that Microsoft may never shake.
The fact is, though, that Microsoft has undergone a metanoia and, today, aces visibility. They make it really easy for customers to get inside them and their products. Take, for example, their proliferate use of blogs (see Microsoft’s channel 9 for more examples) by its employees. Here is one, for example, by a loose cannon programmer who came up with an incredibly simple Google image program using Microsoft’s latest platform tools VS2005 and .Net 2.0. For old programmers like me, who came of age coding in machine language and wishing often that things had never advanced, seeing a demo like this gives us that gentle nudge to embrace Microsoft because they always make it easy for us to move forward.
Sometimes it’s not hard to run TempWorks. I just take Microsoft’s ideas and apply them to staffing software. This blog, a regular newsletter, lots of PR and a constant effort to have customers and prospects come and visit our offices, are all pages out of Microsoft’s playbook.
How does the concept of visibility apply to staffing? How easy do you make it for customers to track the status of their order, visit your offices, automatically pull their billing data into their accounting system, or learn about standard rates for different types of services? How visible do you make your service to candidates? How do they know that you have real, good jobs that make it worth going through an application process with you?