The Customer

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Customer, client, user, consumer

A customer organization is the organization that receives the agreed services provided by the service provider. In most situations, the customer organization compensates the provider for the service that is provided. This compensation can take many forms, from the obvious 'money' to any type of compensation that is of value to the provider, mostly something that relates to the realization of the provider's mission, goals, or objectives.

The term customer may also be used to specify the individual with the authority to enter into the service agreement on behalf of the represented organization.

Customer and client are used as synonyms, both for the organization and for the individual representing that organization.

The customer organization has one or more users ('consumers') who use ('consume') the agreed service. The authorized individual representing the customer organization may also act as user. If the customer organization contains only one individual, this individual is both the customer and the (only) user.

The USM Customer-Provider Interaction Model


All providers are customers and vice versa

In a business-to-business (B2B) supply chain setting, the customer acts as the provider to the organization positioned to its left, who then acts as the customer in that relationship - but also as the provider to the next party to the left in the supply chain (see the image below). This recursive relationship specifies the concept of the link in the supply chain. The customer-provider pairs are being repeated, until the (theoretical) end of that supply chain has been reached.

From the perspective of the provider, we speak of the 'end customer' when we address the customer of the provider's customer. This may either be a customer in a B2B setting or a consumer in a business-to-consumer (B2C) setting. The concept of 'consumer' is the theoretical end of the supply chain from the perspective of the provider.

The USM supply chain that is composed of USM links


The structure of a customer

Apart from the distinction between customer/user, a customer organization can be structured as any other organization.

Because a customer normally also is a service provider, all that applies to the USM management system component 'people' also applies to the customer's organization.

Customer-driven maturity level

In the USM Value Maturity Model, the customer is at the heart of the provider's service delivery strategy, 'customer excellence'. All services are specified from the perspective of the customer (and user):

  • the interactions start and end with the customer (user), representing 'value streams' and 'customer journeys'.
  • services are expressed in terms that are relevant for the customer
  • service agreements are set up in terms of customer-relevant entities and metrics
  • service reports are expressed in terms of customer-relevant entities and metrics
The USM Value Maturity Model