Cover Story: Social Works
Listening to Customers
Carter may be on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, but none of that does IBM any good if she isn't listening.
"[First,] we're really focused in on ensuring that we build an … environment with our customers that's one of sharing and collaboration," Carter says. "And so you'll see us do a lot of co-creation, crowd-sourcing with them, so that we're building the right thing for the customer through that listening.
"The second is we're focused on better execution," she continues. "So we want to build the best and most effective go-to-market strategy, especially in this economic environment. And the third thing is creating more business value. We want to be the most agile business there is. And we want to be able to respond in real time to opportunities."
By listening to customers and partners, IBM gains valuable marketing insight. For instance, customer Fabergé revealed the value of allowing more involved prospects into the inner sanctum—giving them special content and detailed product information in an online community atmosphere.
Then there's the prospecting aspect, which Carter says her team optimizes by noticing Web site activity.
"So if you're on my Web site and you go out there and download, let's say, a couple of papers on security, I pop up a live chat window that says, 'Hey, I saw that you downloaded three or four papers on security. Do you have questions about security that I can answer?'" she says. "And not only has it increased my sales, but it's also added more business value to the customer. Because now I'm not going out there [saying], 'Here's 350 products. Tell me what you like.' [Instead,] I'm saying, 'I know that you're interested in this and I have expertise. Let me give you the right subject matter expert, and let's directly target what you need.'