Challenging Assumptions of the Consumer Internet: How to Scale with Humanity
In February, I wrote on LinkedIn that Pavilion challenge two central assumptions at the heart of the consumer internet.
Those assumptions, restated, are first that platforms should be free and, as a consequence of being free, that the “users,” and their behavior and data, become the product. This is not particularly controversial, yet we see it every day in places like Facebook or LinkedIn. The spam and solicitations we all receive — those are a feature, not a bug. They are, in fact, the point. LinkedIn’s entire business model is to get as many people as possible (at this point, over 800M) to manage their professional presence using their tools and then sell access to those people to third parties – salespeople, advertisers, recruiters.
That’s neither nefarious nor malicious. There are major benefits to using so many free tools. There is obviously significant value to having one platform (like LinkedIn) that serves as the repository for our professional presence.
The second related assumption is one around service. Because these platforms are free, there is an implicit assumption, and for all of us, an ingrained expectation, we will have to figure out how to use these platforms on our own. That, whatever their stated mission or values, there will be nobody to call to ask for help. The best we can hope for is a Zendesk-powered help center that might answer our question.
Of course, this isn’t how all of us in B2B treat our customers. But again, that’s intentional. Because we’re not the customer. We’re the user.
Within Pavilion, we challenge both of those assumptions intentionally and explicitly. Many folks think our dues are too expensive — or worse, that communities shouldn’t charge at all. And, of course, I understand that type of objection.
But there is something beautiful about paying for a service. Because once you do that, you become the customer. And companies listen to customers. We certainly do.
And despite whatever people’s assumptions might be, our business model does, in fact, seem to indicate that providing great service with a human touch, generated from a place of kindness and compassion, is scalable. Scalability doesn’t mean software per se. It doesn’t mean lines of code. It means profitable repeatability. That’s the essence of scale.
Within our communities, we are committed to the notion that scale and human beings aren’t mutually exclusive. We will treat every Member with as much service, kindness, and compassion as we can muster.
Unlike every other big platform, there is a phone number to call. There is someone you can talk to, and we will respond, even on weekends, even when it might not be perfectly convenient. We are building not just a community, but a set of products and services oriented completely around delivering a high-end career concierge service to our Members — one that, thankfully due to legacy decisions around the consumer internet, makes standing out not that difficult.
As long we’re committed to helping you, we feel like we’ll be on the right track. And we will be. And we are.
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