Customers & Consumers, & Shades of Grey
First, as Connie says, "when your consumers have demanding customers things are even more interesting....". How true! The relationship between firm management and those providing legal services is always one of give and take. Management wants to be cost effective, but also doesn't want to take away actively used resources that help people do their jobs. And somehow it seems, if these groups aren't bickering, someone isn't pushing the profitability line hard enough. ;-)
And from the Information Overlord's perspective:
"I have always been in a situation where those controlling my budget, have been as equally concerned in the quality of service, and identifying the best resources - for the money - to help achieve this. I also think that (at least in my experience) many customers are also consumers"
This has generally also been my experience, which leads me to think my original post was a little black & white. Customers (Managers) can definitely also be consumers. My point was, at crunch time - say, budget time for Management, or a Researcher accessing an online DB prior to a client/matter number being issued - blinders can be firmly in place.
Also part of the mix here, is the fact that research tends to be conducted by younger Associates who are learning to treat firm resources as part of the business; and the Law Librarian's ongoing task to convince others that we are not a lunch expense, but a necessary and cost recoverable service that can effect profitability.