Jack Dorsey (founder of Twitter and CEO of Square) has shared a letter he recently sent to the staff at Square:
The entire technology industry uses the word “user” to describe its customers. While it might be convenient, “users” is a rather passive and abstract word. No one wants to be thought of as a “user” (or “consumer” for that matter). I certainly don’t. And I wouldn’t consider my mom a “user” either, she’s my mom. The word “user” abstracts the actual individual. This may seem like a small and insignificant detail that doesn’t matter, but the vernacular and words we use here at Square set a very strong and subtle tone for everything we do. So let’s now part ways with our industry and rethink this.
The word “customer” is a much more active and bolder word. It’s honest and direct. It immediately suggests a relationship we must deliver on. And our customers think of their customers in the same way.
I’m glad Jack shared this letter with the world. We certainly agree with the sentiment.
People are referred to as “people” within Measured Voice. They have first and last names. Internally, we refer to the people who use Measured Voice as “beta testers” at the moment (sign up to be a beta tester if you’d like). Once we’re out of beta, we hope to call many of them our “customers”.
But there’s another important insight from Jack’s letter. This: “the vernacular and words we use here at Square set a very strong and subtle tone for everything we do”.
We’re obsessed with language at Measured Voice, because language can inform, nudge, convince, delight, or repel people. Language changes minds. Our goal is to help organizations understand the power of language and provide the best tool for them to wield it.
Jack’s emphasis on words is important. By choosing our words more deliberately, we help others understand who we are, and we better define the world we want to create.
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