ITIL Foundation : Types of Customers

ITIL framework is formulated for the planning and delivery of IT services. The consumers of these services are its customers. Today I will discuss the segregation that is employed with its customers.

According to ITIL, there are two types of customers:

  1. Internal Customers
  2. External Customers

In my previous post, I explained who a customer is. To recap, the entity that pays for the service is your customer. In this context, let’s look at internal and external customers.

Internal Customers

Any service provider organization will have its own users who need to be taken care of. The users could be part of the support team or from project teams. As you service users within your own organization, this customer is called as an internal customer.

The projects and teams do pay for the IT service in the form of notional charging – funds are transferred on paper and not really through bank transfers. It’s analogous to the left pocket paying the right.

All the elements of IT service management such as SLAs, negotiations for services and customer feedback are in play. None of the elements would be suppressed because the customer happens to be a part of the same organization. In fact, some organizations look at internal customers as the bed to play with all challenges that they might face in the external world. They set challenging targets and push the limits.

External Customers

If your customer resides outside the IT service provider organization, then the customer is called as an external customer. This is the customer that all of us can relate to.

The external customer pay for all the services he enjoys sets SLAs and imposes penalties when service targets are not met.

External customers play hardball generally. They have nothing to lose when they make their expectations known – as the IT service market is buzzing with numerous players. So, any bad or miscalculated move might cost the service organization the project, but also its reputation would be at stake. The CIOs of customer organization exchange ideas and one such information exchange is the performance of a service provider. To sum up, external customers are tough nuts to crack. Pleasing them is not a one-time exercise but something that needs to be done day in and day out.

From an ITIL foundation certification perspective, you just need to know the difference between internal and external customers and not all the nuances that go along with it.

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