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Study Notes


AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

A customer is anyone who receives a product – either a good or a service – from an organisation. In most situations the customer will have to pay to obtain the product, but this is not always the case. For example, students are increasingly referred to as the 'customers' of the schools and colleges that they attend, but the majority of students do not pay directly for the educational service they receive.

Internal customers are members of staff or outside suppliers that contribute towards the service provided to external customers. They include:

  • Colleagues
  • Managers/supervisors
  • Staff in other functional departments

Good customer service to internal customers will help to establish good working relationships between colleagues, managers and staff teams. These relationships are important if the business is to function effectively. For example, working in a pleasant environment where staff are supportive of each other can keep staff turnover and absenteeism costs to a minimum.

External customers, on the other hand, are the people who we more usually associate with the term 'customer', i.e. the people that actually buy or use an organisation's products and services.

A key point to remember is that there are many occasions in which a business comes into contact with external customers. It is not just about the moment a transaction takes place. Points of customer contact take place:

  • When a customer is enquiring about the product
  • Taking a customer order or payment
  • Delivering a product
  • When handling a complaint or problem
  • When making repairs or doing maintenance
  • Providing after-sales care

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