During a Square Board meeting, our newest Director Howard Schultz, pulled me aside and asked a simple question.
“Why do you all call your customers ‘users’?”
“I don’t know. We’ve always called them that.”
At Square we’re removing the term “users” from our vocabulary, replacing it with “customers”, and the more specific “buyers”, and “sellers.” The word customer, given its history, immediately sets a high bar on the level of service we must provide, or risk losing their attention or business. Below is a letter I sent the team after that Board meeting explaining why. It’s a start (we’re not done yet).
To everyone in the technology industry: I encourage you to reconsider the word “user” and what you call the people who love what you’ve created, starting with yourselves.
I love the direction here, but I don’t think it takes it nearly far enough. To really get in the head of a customer, we (as an organization at MobileDevHQ and as an industry as a whole) should nail down our customer to a specific person.
In our case, a user shouldn’t just be a customer, it should be a profile of a real person.
An example: From now on, I want everyone at MobileDevHQ to stop thinking in terms of a user or customer, abolish those words from our vocabulary, and instead start thinking in terms of Jane. Jane is the mobile marketing manager at a large publisher. She spends her day in a variety of tools, from paid ad networks, to engagement analytics platforms, to MobileDevHQ. She’s not technical — meaning she couldn’t code an app herself — but she understands technology, understands the basics of organic app marketing, and is looking to us for guidance on how she’s performing and how to get better.
In short: Jane needs MobileDevHQ to succeed at her job. She wants to help her organization build a big mobile business. And she wants to enjoy doing that every single day, so she needs to enjoy using MobileDevHQ.
From now on, I will mandate that we remove user from our vocabulary, but also remove customer, and instead replace it with Jane, a specific person we know well.