I’ve noticed over the years that many entrepreneurs are increasingly referring to the people that sign up for their service or product as users. I don’t know about you, but when I think of a user, I immediately picture a drug addict. Conversely, when I think of a customer, I think of someone that I do business with. Someone that I want to love my product or service. Someone that will allow me in some way to generate revenue from their patronage.
A user? Not so much.
I hope we can reverse this trend. Customers are people. Customers are the ones we serve. Customers are the only way a business can survive. Users? They sound like robots. Droids who do what they are told. Mindless. As my friend Porter said, it’s “too much Tron” in their mentality. I couldn’t agree more.
Utilizing these definitions, treating customers like users would be both disrespectful and ungrateful. You only exist because they do.
Customers, by definition: a person who purchases goods or services from another.
I realize many of todays businesses offer their product for free (software/web). However, when a customer signs up, they are required to check a box that allows you to monetize their usage in different ways. This is a form of payment, and thus makes them a customer. It is very difficult to increase demand if there is no supply. Try selling advertisers something when it is based on a customer base (non-paying customers) of a paltry number. It’s tough and becoming tougher. Those free customers that sign up for your web service? Without them you will not generate revenue from elsewhere. So while they aren’t paying customers in that they pay you directly, remember that without them, you cannot monetize.
Users, by definition: a person or thing that uses.
That has a nice ring to it, right? Yuck. A thing that uses. That is not how I hope to be viewed by any business that I work with. I feel like that with some companies though and I usually don’t do business with them again. I want to feel like a person, not a thing.
I know many in todays generation refer to customers as users because it is simply out of habit. They mean no disrespect.
Customers are customers. Be grateful by thinking about them and referring to them in the highest of regard.