Users, Customers, and Clients

Since starting Union Code, I've been learning a lot about product and business development. As a software developer, I never considered the different types of people who interact with my product. The words user, customer, and client were interchangeable to me.

The truth is that users, customers, and clients are not always the same. It helps to recognize the differences, so that you know who is using and who is buying your product. Sometimes it isn't the same person.

Users are the people who use your product. You talk to them regularly, value their feedback, and design for their interaction. This makes sense, since you're solving their problems and adding value to their lives. By explaining how you enrich their lives, you'll tap into your strongest marketing message and they'll become your loudest advocate.

Customers are the people who pay for your product. They may be your users or your users' managers, parents, or clients. Either way, you'll need to convince your customers to open their wallets and support your product. This means that you may need different marketing strategies for your users and customers.

Clients are customers who pay for special treatment. They're a unique breed of customer because they receive a personalized service. Maybe it's a support package, custom feature, or something else entirely. Either way, a client is a recurring customer that has a special agreement with you.

When you know your users and customers, it gives focus to your product development and sales teams. This provides direction, removes confusion, and allows everyone to focus on what matters most - getting a great product in the hands of great people.


Photo by Elizabeth Lies.