It may feel like my posts today were a bit harsh about IBM's process for ordering software, but I wanted to highlight three ways in which the process reflected well on IBM. 1) Contact information for chat or e-mail readily available
Almost every page which has anything to do with software includes a frame on the right side that looks like this:
While I may have wanted to do all my ordering on-line, which is useful for buying an individual consumer item, it was reassuring to to note that I could always start a chat with a real live person, or initiate a contact through e-mail. Microsoft, by comparison, does not provide any obvious way to talk or chat with a "real person". If I were a SMB with fifty people looking to buy a server or two and a bundle of Notes/Domino, I'd be far more interested in this contact information and a live assistant than with a completely on-line focused ordering system.2) A pop up asks if you need assistance if you wander about too much
I don't know the exact trigger, but each time I would start to wander from page to page trying to find the right information, a box would pop up asking if I'd like help. You could tell it to go away, but like a store that actually tries to serve you, the feeling was left that you wouldn't have to just wander lost forever.3) IBM gives you the option of dealing with a business partner instead of directly with IBM
If you are General Motors, you may want to deal directly with IBM, but I appreciate that IBM even suggests an IBM partner before suggesting their own sale's rep. It is a small thing, but important. Microsoft certainly doesn't mention how you can buy through a partner.
So, while I think IBM has some work to do with both ordering and searching, it has already taken some very important steps in making the process of ordering more useful and accessible.
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