People making use of a thing. Any person, organization or system which uses a service provided by others is a user.
This definition is by Roberta Tassi. And it’s a pretty good one. We can even consider this definition as the classical definition of the user.
Personally, I like the idea of saying that a user is not only the end user. What do I mean by that? The example I love to give is of my wife and I going shopping. I hate shopping, so, when I am with my wife who is shopping for new shoes I am not really a user of the service as people would define it. I don’t interact with the staff members and I don’t really care about what happens in that service. My wife is the end user. She is the one who explores the alleys, asks for advice, and finally might buy something. But still, I believe that I’m a user too; maybe a different sort of user. I don’t use the service in a normal way, but I still use it. The way I use it, is, for example, is to look for some seating places where I can wait while my wife finishes her business.
This is just one example, but we can go further. A staff member is in a way also a user. I personally like to use the term “user” as any person involved in a service, whoever this is: the end user, employee, or people accompanying the user.
I personally wish that we, Service Designers, do not care only for end users, but for all the people involved in the service.
Free Course: What is Service Design?
Discover what Service Design and why it is powerful to enhance the customer experience