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I am trying to describe a situation in which you design a product for a company, and they use it to engage with their customers. So from my own perspective, the company would be the primary (or first degree) customer, and the company's customers (or second degree) customer can be unambiguously described. And if the company provides a service to another company that also deals with their own customers then you can call it a third degree customer (and so on and so forth). Has anyone come across this term, and is it easy enough to understand or do people use other terminologies.

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When I just hear "Second Degree" by itself, I immediately think of "second degree murder" or something along those lines. I never heard it refer to an audience. Normally it's primary, secondary, and tertiary. –  Chris N. Jul 26 '13 at 16:11
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4 Answers 4

The confusion is likely the term 'customer'. Your client is YOUR customer. But your client ALSO has customers--the people that are going to depend on the UX you create for them.

Typically you and your client would define their user base. You may have primary users and secondary users, but both you and the client are focused on their UX needs (while accommodating your client's business needs).

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I'd be careful with "second degree". Even though it is actually a fairly neutral term, it can be confused with second rate, especially by non-native speakers. And nobody wants to be a second degree/rate anything.

An even more neutral term would be "tier". First tier, second tier and third tier customers accurately describe the "distance" from the company without invoking any value judgement.

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I wouldn't use it, because it's somewhat confusing and ambiguous.

I'm in a similar situation--I make tools that people(1) use, to make tools that other people(2) use to make tools for other people(3). (No, really.) So I have "1. internal customers/developers" who make things for "2. product developers/toolsmiths" who make things for "3. product users".

The word 'product' is a magic word around here meaning "the thing we ask people to pay money for", which contrasts with our internal tools team. You might find a similar word you can use to make the distinctions clearer.

In your system, someone with less system knowledge might not remember which is 2nd vs. 3rd degree. What is it that is produced at each step? And it might sound a bit dismissive for that same person without context.

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In my design course, we called them primary, secondary, and tertiary users.

Of course, it depends on who you're talking to. If you're talking to your clients, you would just call their customers "your customers". If you're talking to your colleagues about your client, you would call them "(blank)'s customers." But if you want a very generic term, I think "secondary users" should be okay once you define what they are.

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