A customer (also known as a client, buyer, or purchaser) is the recipient of a good, service, product, or idea, obtained from a seller, vendor, or supplier for a monetary or other valuable consideration. Customers are generally categorized into two types:
- An intermediate customer or trade customer (more informally: "the trade") who is a dealer that purchases goods for re-sale.
- An ultimate customer who does not in turn re-sell the things bought but either passes them to the consumer or actually is the consumer.
A customer may or may not also be a consumer, but the two notions are distinct, even though the terms are commonly confused. A customer purchases goods; a consumer uses them. An ultimate customer may be a consumer as well, but just as equally may have purchased items for someone else to consume. An intermediate customer is not a consumer at all. The situation is somewhat complicated in that ultimate customers of so-called industrial goods and services (who are entities such as government bodies, manufacturers, and educational and medical institutions) either themselves use up the goods and services that they buy, or incorporate them into other finished products, and so are technically consumers, too. However, they are rarely called that, but are rather called industrial customers or business-to-business customers. Similarly, customers who buy services rather than goods are rarely called consumers.
Six Sigma doctrine places (active) customers in opposition to two other classes of people: not-customers and non-customers. Whilst customers have actively dealt with a business within a particular recent period that depends from the product sold, not-customers are either past customers who are no longer customers or potential customers who choose to do business with the competition, and non-customers are people who are active in a different market segment entirely. Geoff Tennant, a Six Sigma consultant from the United Kingdom, uses the following analogy to explain the difference: A supermarket's customer is the person buying milk at that supermarket; a not-customer is buying milk from a competing supermarket, whereas a non-customer doesn't buy milk from supermarkets at all but rather "has milk delivered to the door in the traditional British way".
Tennant also categorizes customers another way, that is employed outwith the fields of marketing. Whilst the intermediate/ultimate categorization is used by marketers, market regulation, and economists, in the world of customer service customers are categorized more often into two classes:
- An external customer of an organization is a customer who is not directly connected to that organization.
- An internal customer is a customer who is directly connected to an organization, and is usually (but not necessarily) internal to the organization. Internal customers are usually stakeholders, employees, or shareholders, but the definition also encompasses creditors and external regulators.
The notion of an internal customer — before the introduction of which external customers were, simply, customers — was popularized by quality management writer Joseph M. Juran, who introduced it in the fourth edition of his Handbook (Juran 1988). It has since gained wide acceptance in the literature on total quality management and service marketing; and the customer satisfaction of internal customers is nowadays recognized by many organizations as a precursor to, and prerequisite for, external customer satisfaction, with authors such as Tansuhaj, Randall & McCullough 1991 arguing that service organizations that design products for internal customer satisfaction are better able to satisfy the needs of external customers.
Other articles related to "customers, customer":
... is built on is predicated on the answering of questions sent in from customers via SMS, with the questions being queued and presented to multiple independent researchers through a web ... Answers are then sent back to the customer via a premium-rate SMS ... an implementation is built upon a unique keyword, used for branding when supplied to a customer, and whilst the GTIP implementation is deliberately limited to answering computer-game related questions (a ...
... The customer agreement between the parties provided "Reports of the execution of orders and statements of my account shall be conclusive if not objected to within five days and ten days, respectively ... It is reasonable to require that a customer memorialize his objections so courts will not become a forum for endless swearing contests between brokers ... "There will be instances where a disparity in sophistication between a brokerage firm and its customer will warrant a flexible application of such written notice clauses.. ...
... Interactive customer evaluation (ICE) is commonly implemented in web based applications ... The interactive customer evaluation (ICE) system is a web-based tool that collects feedback on web applications, computer software, or other services provided ... The ICE system allows customers to submit online comment cards to rate the service providers they have encountered ...
... The customer is always on-route if they can answer yes to at least one of the below, according to section A of the guide Is the train an advertised direct train ... This can occur when the customer wishes or needs to change trains several times, either with a view to travelling on a particular line (for example to connect with a faster train), or because of a desire to break ...
... which can then be personalized by the customer ... The customer can choose which area of the shoe to personalize, changing the color and fabric to what they desire ... And, if the customer does not want to have to design the shoes themselves, they can choose from a range of pre-made designs or buy designs other customers have made ...
Famous quotes containing the word customer:
“The elements of success in this business do not differ from the elements of success in any other. Competition is keen and bitter. Advertising is as large an element as in any other business, and since the usual avenues of successful exploitation are closed to the profession, the adage that the best advertisement is a pleased customer is doubly true for this business.”
—Madeleine [Blair], U.S. prostitute and madam. Madeleine, ch. 5 (1919)
“The customer is the immediate jewel of our souls. Him we flatter, him we feast, compliment, vote for, and will not contradict.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)
“A good customer should not change his shop, nor a good shop change its customers.”