PUT FOCUS on Customers AND Users

Users don't always buy. Buyers don't always use.

Users don't always buy. Buyers don't always use.

There is a difference between users and customers. Users use your product; Customers buy it. In addition to the photo above, here are some simple examples of what I mean:

  • The owner of a small business decides which cell phone service will be provided to their employees. The owner is the buyer, but the employees are the users. Both play a role in the purchase decision, one more direct and the other as an influencer. Neglect one, and you’ve done half the job.
  • The procurement specialist with a mid-size business decides what type of office chair will be standard. Again, the users are the employees – each with specific ergonomic preference.
  • The doctor is the prescription writer. But the user is the patient. Pharma sets a great example of marketing to both. You get the idea.

So how do these examples get you thinking about your business? Here are the implications and suggestions:

  1. Focus on only one of these and you will fall behind your competitors. Knowing the differences between customers and users is one of the hottest topics right now.
  2. Segmentation - The customer and user have separate concerns and action triggers. Understand the differences here including the calendar. Buyers may be more open at certain budgetary timeframes, users ‘use’ all year long. Also be aware of what your competition is doing to reach these two distinctly different groups. Finally, communication tactics vary greatly here, so direct channel engagement for buyers will overkill for users. Social may be efficient for users, but too soft for buyers. Some hate the thought of segmentation. “It sounds like business school, not business”. I get that – just think about the other words for this “discover the market”. If there is no market, a large market or a niche market, it’s better to know and adjust your effort to match these.
  3. Product design – If products are designed with just the buyer/customer input, there is a risk that it may not fully please the user. This includes basics, features and benefits. If you do step 1 above like most companies, you will follow the money, and allow the current spending to mildly segment your internal structure. Customers spend the money, so they are important. But be careful that your biggest customers don’t ‘outshout’ their needs in comparison to the users. It’s users that interact with product. Users touch it, hold it, register, login, push the buttons, and hear, smell, admire, hate and complain about the “user experience”. They tell their friends, family and colleagues in increasing numbers on transparent media like the Internet of Things.
  4. Customer satisfaction. Make sure you perform net promoter surveys on both the customers and the users. Are you doing this? The knowledge from customer satisfaction measurements will be critical to guide you. Then the tactics on how to reward for loyalty, improve post sale user experience and target will be clear.

Start thinking about the both users and customers and you’ll improve your business and outdistance your competitors.  

Feel free to contact me at john.klein@cevoh.com to keep the conversation going.

John KleinComment