Difference Between Customers and Users

Bottom-line: users use and customers buy. “Grow your user base and your customer base grows as well,”  states Users, not Customers: Who Really Determines the Success of your Business   Aaron Shapiro understands this difference between customers and users and how it can influence your business decisions, help guide your revenue streams and focus your development sprints. In Users vs. Customer, the author, basically see all groups for which a company creates value through a product or a service as users. Customers are simply users who pay for the value that is created for them in the form of a revenue stream for the company What is a User?   Users are the people who interact with a company through digital media and technology. For many products the users can be divided into segments based on their needs. For example, new users aspire to start quickly and not hit roadblocks.  Power users want those complex features that give them control front and center.  All are looking for digital technologies to make their lives easier and better. In terms of volume, a company’s user base often vastly outweighs its customer base.  To engage with users you need to provide:  simplicity. Everything needs to happen by a simple click, no wondering, or the user moves on. A user will rarely go back on a site or app if they find it frustrating. So it is critical for companies to spend a lot of time thinking about usability that leads to user satisfaction. Aaron Shapiro clarifies, “The best user experience requires no directions or learning curves. The User-First Company is the new model for business excellence.” Users are the engine for growing a customer base and the overall organization!  The user is at the center of all external touch points. The users’ needs must be anticipated and met. The users decide when and where to buy by evaluation four factors: trust, convenience, price and fun. “Elevate the user, and you change the way you think about the value you create in the world,” Is the belief of Jesse James Garrett, co-founder and chief creative officer of Adaptive Path.  The “User” means something more—a direct engagement with your product or service in a concrete and meaningful way. “The most common thing founders have to do at the start is to recruit users manually. Nearly all startups have to. You can’t wait for users to come to you. You have to go out and get them.”  Paul Graham understands, “You should take extraordinary measures not just to acquire users, but also to make them happy. Over-engaging with early users is not just a permissible technique for getting growth rolling. For most successful startups It is a necessary part of the feedback loop that makes the product good.” What is a Customer? To understand your customers, you have to understand who is making the decision to buy your product, and it is often a group, which in common parlance is called a decision-making unit (DMU). The group might be the new product decision team of a business that will not actually use the product, but has evaluated it to be the most effective. Or a child might be the user of a new interactive program, but it is the digital dad, who enters his user info for the new learning app.  “Customers are often concerned with purchasing factors like price, company viability, product leadership, etc. — issues that are not about the usability or the user experience… The biggest implication of user vs. customer is how this impacts your market discovery work.  Often you will have different people doing these activities, different objectives, and different research tactics… From StartupBlender Customer discovery will use tactics such as: ▪    Needs exploration with the DMU (decision-making unit) ▪    Product validation with the DMU ▪    Pricing analysis and testing ▪    Marketing sizing ▪    Etc. User discovery will use tactics such as: ▪    Contextual interviews ▪    Walking through a prototype ▪    A/B testing on a site ▪    Scrappy usability tests ▪    User diaries ▪    Analyzing usage data Types of target customers   In business-to-business (B2B) markets, target customers are categorized according to their roles within their organizations: ▪    Economic buyers purchase the product (e.g., CFOs/COOs, function or line of business executives) ▪    Technical buyers make the product accessible to end-users (e.g., technology directors, technology evaluators) ▪    End-users use the product (e.g., departmental managers, lead end-users) Startups must investigate individual companies to identify the different target customers. In large organizations, these roles can be performed by groups of different people or committees. In smaller companies, one person may be responsible for all three roles. Closing reminder:  Bottom-line: users use and customers buy. But grow your user base and your customer base grows as well.]]>