It's possible to think of a fellow human as neighbour even if they do not live in a house that's adjacent to yours or in the same street. The same thinking is also applicable to Customers.
I'm not a Customer unless we're doing some business.
I read a tweet or two on Twitter today about CX. The original tweet asked the question whether a focus upon CX is all that's required, suggesting that CX may now be primary to UX.
My selected replies record a suggestion that one can only be a Customer if a commercial transaction has taken place. Personally, I think the definition of a Customer is both broader and richer than a status that exists for the duration of a transaction.
We may agree that me buying a product or a service from you makes me a Customer of yours. However, if I then go and buy the same product more cheaply from someone else, am I still your Customer? Am I now someone else's Customer instead of yours? Have I not now bought-into someone else's commercial proposition?
How long does the state of being a Customer last and who gets to decide this anyway?
I'm of the opinion that being a Customer is not limited to, or defined by, any one financial transaction. I believe that being a Customer is a state of mind although that state is not necessarily one that's defined by you.
Looking at the semantics of this, it's clearly possible for me to buy-in to your business proposition and endorse it by describing myself as a Customer. My purchase, such as a car, might be infrequent but referring to myself as a Honda Customer is an indication of a state of mind that holds me as being content to align myself to a brand.
This state of mind extends beyond the transaction and the perimeter of this state is not, I believe, one directional. I can be a Customer after a transaction and I can be a Customer before a transaction; the only difference is that I just don't realise it yet.
When writing website content you're writing content for users who either do or will buy-in to you. These users are Customers. Why on earth would you want to be spending time developing your website for anyone who isn't a Customer?
When it comes to SEO you're writing content that has the ability to attract new business through the search engines. The people you are producing content for are your Customers, whether they know it yet or not. This activity is merely a brand aligning itself with its Customers and is in no way different to a Customer aligning itself to a brand.
I only think of website visitors as Customers; whether you've bought or not, CX content attracts people to buy.
The parable of the good samaritan was used to expand upon us to the concept of the state of the neighbour. Surely it's not too much of a leap to expand upon the state of the Customer; to think about their needs, to think about the experience they would like before you've even met them?