Who does your business serve? You know, the people that spend money on your product or service. Do you consider them to be “clients”, “customers”, or “users”?
They all sound similar, and they are, but there are subtle and important differences between them. I see it roughly like this:
Clients are people you know and work with. You talk to them frequently, know them by name, and have a solid relationship.
Customers are people that buy from you, and you might recognize their face, but each transaction is a one-off, and you hope they come back again.
Users are people that subscribe to your service and pay for access, but you rarely (often never) have direct communication with them.
All can be good, but it really depends on what your business does and who you really want to serve.
An episode of The Long and The Short Of It podcast dug into this a bit, and I loved how the hosts both framed these types of people.
Jen’s thought was pretty simple:
“And I recognize that I want clients, and I have no interest in customers.”
She’s not against people being customers, per se, but for her kind of work she needs a deeper relationship, and it was a good way to frame it. I view our company through the same lens. We don’t sell a product to customers, but rather work with clients to help them achieve more.
Pete took it the other way, and discussed how “users” compare to the other two categories:
“And you could actually extend that further in terms of the other side of a customer, where you hear tech companies talk about users. And there’s a brilliant documentary on Netflix called The Social Dilemma. And they point out that there’s two industries that exist who refer to their clients/customers as users. That is the drug industry and the tech industry.”
If your company requires “users” to make it work, there’s nothing wrong with that. Just be sure about what kind of people you really want to work with, and treat them accordingly.