Business-to-business has been a buzzword for a while as a way to promote efficiency and cost savings. Plus, hey, it sounds trendy doesn't it? It is vital for a business to deal directly with other businesses (bartering is an art that may be considered lost but is immensely useful!), but what may not be seen as catchy is customer-to-customer relations.
There is an increasing amount of input that customers can provide on third-party sites and forums. Some even ask for customer reviews of products to help other customers make an informed decision. Of course in reading this you know that this newspaper offers such a "C2C" medium. If you didn't, well, just scroll down a bit and leave a comment!
Why is conversation among your customers important? It keeps your good or service in front of them and it helps prove that you are providing something compelling enough to make conversation about even casually on a computer or at a dinner table. It also allows you to follow what works, what doesn't, and even offers more clues as to just who visits your business. We'll take a small quote from 1993's Jurassic Park as an example. Imagine the characters were customers in your store or on a forum and the product in this case is a Tyrannosaurus Rex about ready to feed.
Lex: He's gonna eat the goat?
Donald Gennaro: What's the matter, kid? You never had lamb chops?
Lex: I happen to be a vegetarian.
We learned A LOT from just four lines! Think if this kind of feedback happened more often. Social networking sites are made for just this, but you can just as easily get similar areas for conversation going through a website maker or a forum such as ProBoards.
Most importantly, strike up conversation in your shop if you can. But let your customers do the talking. Listen to them, be humble, and let them speak their minds and confide in each other as entities on the other side of the counter. Take criticism and recommendations well and in good spirit else you may sound foolish or worse, like this:
[Offering a response on a complaint regarding his park.]
John Hammond: All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked!
Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, but, John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists.
Make sure that as you practice and encourage C2C in business you also use it in other ways. C2C can just as well mean "child to custodian" or "constituent to committee" (or the other way around). It is especially meaningful to try and understand the interests of everyone across a counter, desk, and dinner table alike. Movies, sports, shopping trips, games, books, news, and the happenings of work or school all make excellent and impromptu forums to share your ideas.
Just as goods and services must flow between businesses to foster success, so too must the energy and emotion created by each other to support the success of the various things we enjoy in our C2C lives.
Dr. Alan Grant: Hammond, after some consideration, I've decided, not to endorse your park.
John Hammond: So have I.