How do You Define A Customer?

I’ve been searching the dictionaries for a definition. What have I found?

customer. noun
A person who buys goods or a service. Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary

Can’t argue with that. Pretty uninspiring though? What does the Compact Oxford English Dictionary say?

customer. noun
1 a person who buys goods or services from a shop or business. 2 a person or thing of a specified kind that one has to deal with: he’s a tough customer.

Oh dear, I don’t know about you but I’m not feeling the love I expect from a great customer experience. Do you have to actually buy something to be a customer? Once more from Compact Oxford, this time with a twist:

relationship. noun
1 the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected. 2 the way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other

That’s better, kind of.

What do you think? How do you define a customer?

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

3 thoughts on “How do You Define A Customer?”

  1. The Dictionary definition is really boring, you’re right! So I looked up the etymology for you and here it is… I love the etymology of words! (Incidentally, the etymology of etymology comes from “logo” – the Greek for “word” and “etymon” meaning “truth”! Ha!)

    The word derives from “custom,” meaning “habit”; a customer was someone who frequented a particular shop, who made it a habit to purchase goods of the sort the shop sold there rather than elsewhere, and with whom the shopkeeper had to maintain a relationship to keep his or her “custom,” meaning expected purchases in the future. The word did not refer to those who purchased things at a fair or bazaar, or from a street vendor

    So it’s all about maintaining a relationship rather than just selling something and bu66ering off!


  2. To me a customer is either someone who purchases goods and services or who has an intention to purchase. If the experience they have in talking to you is good, the chances are they will conclude the purchase with you – happy customer and happy company – or is that too simplistic?

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