Customers & Users are different but the same

Who is the user of your service or product?

Who is the Customer?

The above sounds like it’s the same question but it is different. How is different, you may ask?

A customer pays for the product, users do not pay for the product or service but they contribute a great deal to whether the customer will pay for it or not (social media is a very obvious example) Facebook bought Whatsapp for $19 billion yet that valuation largely depended on the billions of users on Whatsapp who don’t pay for the application. In this case Facebook was the customer and the whatsappers are the users.

For any innovator to be effective they have to understand the difference and address both sides. If whatsapp was hard to use and bulky it could never command the amount it commanded but also the innovators had to know who would eventually buy whatsapp before they developed it.

In Lean Enterprise: How High Performance Organizations innovate at scale, Humble, Molesky and O’reilly emphasize the truth that customers and users are co-creators of value to any solution and for such they should be considered in development of products and services.