Users and customers. What is the difference?

    In my life I have repeatedly come across the fact that many people in IT do not see and do not understand the difference between users (users) and customers (customers). I think it will be useful to clarify this point in a short article, although for many the topic that I will try to reveal will be obvious. So let's get started. Ready?

    Users use your product. Customers pay for it .

    In practice, this simple truth often leads to the fact that users and customers are completely different and sometimes disjoint categories for a particular product. Let's look at this with a simple and understandable example. I think the vast majority of Habr’s readers regularly use Google search and, accordingly, are its users. At the same time, a very small portion of those reading this article are Google customers. How so? We are all used to the fact that if we use some kind of service, then we consider ourselves to be its customers. And all because the Google search customers are those who place and pay for contextual advertising in it. Or, in other words, people or companies using AdWords for contextual advertising.

    As you know, who pays, he orders the music and this has very definite consequences for developers of products and services.


    Users use your product. They register, click buttons, download files. They love the product wholeheartedly or wholeheartedly hate it. The main thing for the user is the product’s functionality, ease of use, simplicity, high-quality satisfaction of needs.

    A product, as a rule, has several categories of users who may need different functions and you will either have to compromise between their requirements or have dissatisfied users.


    Customers (or customers) buy your product. They learn about it, conduct its testing, make a decision on its acquisition and, ultimately, pay for it.

    If your product does not have a customer, then you have no business .

    Your users can be your customers. For example, users of many Freemium services (Evernote or DropBox) are their customers. On the other hand, especially in the enterprise segment, decisions about purchasing products are made by people who will never use them.

    It is crucial for a business to understand who your customers are. Customers, unlike users, are interested in such factors as price, reputation of the seller, its financial stability.

    An important practical consequence of the foregoing is that working with users and customers, understanding their needs requires completely different skills and it is desirable that people with relevant experience and knowledge engage in this activity.

    On this, I would like to curl up and invite readers to share their thoughts and experiences on this topic in the comments. Thanks for attention!

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