Business to Business to Consumer

Seth has written a great piece on the differences between what is “very good service” organizations provide to consumers versus to other businesses.
I’d like to add another twist to this.

Behind every big and successful consumer offering is an organization. And organizations (in the broadest sense, would it be a multinational corporation or a subteam inside a startup), while working towards delighting the consumer, have to interact with other organizations in the process.

Thus, people working on a consumer-facing product have to be equally good at both of the games Seth differentiates:

  • when we design products for end users (consumers) we need to aim for “surprise, fashion, edginess
  • while when dealing with organizations
    • internally (budgeting and finance, top management; relationships with business development, marketing, engineering, operations, customer support) and
    • externally (strategic investors (if you have any), partners, suppliers)

    we need to be on time, in budget, predictable, not having anyone to loose sleep, having hard reality checks rather earlier than later

These cultures can be quite contradictory at times. So in a way, pure B2B service providers have it easy?

  • Some companies are a pure B2B or a B2C play and sometimes a company can have both processes. One of the biggest problems facing companies that ebrace both B2B and B2C business processes end up using two different CRM solutions, since most CRM applications are focused on the B2B sector. Very few CRM vendors offer both flavoures to their customers, but it seems some of the on-demand CRM players are starting to offer such tools.