What is a customer?
When asked, most people understand what a customer is since virtually everyone on the planet is, at one time or another, a customer of something or somebody else. Whether buying socks at a clothing store, eating at a restaurant, or streaming an online movie, the customer is, in fact, the very essence of retail. Customers, though, can be defined into two distinct groups: internal and external.
Internal customers are all the employees, vendors, and other stakeholders of a business. This concept, attributed to quality management expert Joseph M. Juran, was only introduced in the late 1980s. Previously only those individuals or organizations who purchased goods or services were considered customers. Today, those traditionally viewed as customers (e.g., those who shop in store, buy products, etc.) are now considered external customers.
W. Marriott, of Marriott International, a corporation renowned for providing exceptional customer service, emphasizes taking good care of their employees because, “If you take care of them, they’ll take care of your customers and the customers will keep coming back again and again.” Not only is Marriott International currently the world’s largest hotel company but it’s also continuously mentioned as one of the best places to work in the world.