Customer or User?

Subject: Customer or User?
From: Karen Davis PSP team 03 505 <karene -at- ASIMOV -dot- SC -dot- TI -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 22 May 1995 14:18:56 CDT

>> Second, how can we distinguish between customers and users? A new TQM
>> group here is trying to determine exactly who our documents are written
>> for, and the definitions are important. Are we just playing with words
>> or do you see a real difference?

>A User is someone who uses your product. A Customer is someone who pays for
>it. In most single-user sitautions, they're one and the same. In corporate
>environments, the two may never meet.

>Or am I overly-simplifying things?

In our corporate environment, anyone who uses your services is your
customer. Documentation services has engineers and programmers as
"customers". This is a real source of irritation for me, since most
of the people in our documentation department lose sight of who the
REAL customer is, the people who buy our products and use our
documentation. I differentiate in our meetings by refering to the
REAL customer as the USER. A fine distinction, to be sure, but in
our "Customer #1" workshops, the real customer is often ignored.

The original aim of this misuse of terms was noble enough, that we
are to think of ourselves as serving other departments in the company
as if they were external customers, but the reality has become one of
doing what the engineer or programmer wants ("That's what the customer
wants") instead of what the user will benefit from most. Our engineers/
programmers will in turn, bless any document that gets out "on time"
regardless of how much of a piece of swill it actually is.

I'm sure other large corporate entities suffer from the same misuse
of terms. I grit my teeth whenever the word customer is used in our
department meetings.

Karen Davis
karene -at- asimov -dot- sc -dot- ti -dot- com


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