Word on the Street

Word on the Street


Microsoft had a limited ability to receive direct and rapid feedback from their retail store staff during the launch of Xbox One.  As Xbox One was preparing to launch in a hyper-competitive environment, the messaging changed quickly and there was an immediate need to track retail sales person sentiment and knowledge. Microsoft needed to identify ways to engage directly with their retail sales professionals without relying on a third party to filter the conversation.

Microsoft asked Sirius 6 to develop a low-cost, scalable way to directly monitor retail sales professionals. Within days, Sirius 6 helped propose and execute the global Xbox “Word on the Street” program.

HISTORY: Customer unrest

On June 6, 2013, Xbox announced the next generation of in-home entertainment with Xbox One. This new product intended to reinvent the living room experience. To make this possible, various product features tested the limits for customer privacy. These features scared both customers and retail partners alike. After a week of customer and partner uproar, the company rightfully reversed many of these policies and features, significantly impacting both the product launch and the retail messaging that had previously been communicated at retail. 

PROBLEM: Retail inconsistency caused customer confusion

Given the product was set to launch presales within the next month – the in-store experience was broken. Every significant product feature was set to change, meaning – nearly every retail sales professional needed updated training. The visual merchandising showcased incorrect messaging and retail sales professionals were confused. Customer sentiment was at a record low, and retail sales professionals were recommending the competition 3:1.

SOLUTION: Low cost monitoring – Word on the Street program

Sirius 6 proposed an innovative and revolutionary program to directly monitor Microsoft’s retail sales professionals using existing communication channels across the globe.

The goal of the Word on the Street program was to increase RSP recommendation rate and reduce consumer confusion by ensuring accurate messaging was available to retail sales professionals. As you will read, Word on the Street not only helped transform the Xbox launch, but also set a best practice for other products.

Xbox had an established community of over 300,000 retail sales professionals via the online eLearning portal. By simply incentivizing these retail sales professionals to complete a 10-question survey, they quickly became the eyes and ears for monitoring. As over 4,000 surveys came in over the first 2 weeks, Sirius 6 learned that over 60% of RSPs were 3x as likely to recommend the competition – leading Microsoft to adjust their marketing and training plans within days. This survey allowed the user to self-select a category and provide both quantitative and qualitative data related to their in-store experience. Sirius 6 partnered with the in-house Microsoft research team, and provided consolidated report showcasing the weekly results.


As the comments and data results came in, it was abundantly clear that the program was a success. The recommendation rate for Xbox One increased by 30% in only 4 weeks alone. Consequently, the Word on the Street program was active for the entire launch year in over 30+ countries, ensuring the field staff and retail sales professionals personally had a voice and could escalate issues. It is estimated that this program saved the company over $1 million in tracking and reporting.


Posted on

July 30, 2012