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The consumer, so it is said, is the king...each is a voter who uses his money as votes to get the things done that he wants done. Paul A. Samuelson

These are the people or groups for whom the organization ultimately produces products or services. We define customers as those who have the choice as to which products or services will be used, but they are not necessarily the ones who actually use the products or services themselves. For example, a terminally ill person going into a hospice may well have the choice of hospice made for them by their relatives. The hospice may thus consider the relatives as the customer since they are exercising the choice and could, if dissatisfied, remove the patient. 

Alternative terms.  Depending on the industry or profession, other terms to 'customer' may be used, e.g. client, patron, patient, user, audience, member, parishioner, passenger, student, consumer, etc.

Looking after the customer. 
Customers may deal directly with the organization - as diners in a restaurant; or indirectly as consumers - as when homeowners buy furniture from a store. However, the furniture manufacturer still thinks of the homeowner as a customer whom they must satisfy, even though they have no direct contact with them. Consumers may not be directly or even indirectly customers, for example an out-of-town motorist using the roads maintained by a city council; viewers watching a television programme paid for by advertisers; or users of equipment or services paid for by an employer.

What does the customer want?
The Church of England commissioned a survey to find out what its 'customers' wanted from their church and priests. However, one senior Archdeacon remarked, "It is not for so-called customers to decide what they want". In a sense this is very true. The public would never have suggested that hula-hoops, thick cumbersome platform soles on shoes, or the use of off-road vehicles for the school run were what they really wanted!  

Customers want good value products and services which do what they are supposed to, are safe and easy to use, delivered at a convenient time and place, with prompt and courteous service, followed by competent and reliable support. >>>