From my overpoint, the difference is in the quality of the relationship. A customer is typically someone who conducts business with you on a transaction basis. They may have only bought from you one time or theymay buy over a period of time but the relationship never gets further than the transaction. A good example is my dry cleaner. I use them exclusively and I know their names but outside of dry cleaning, there's nothing else.
A client is someone that you have an ongoing, deeper relationship with. You know much more about them and may engage them in other events outside of your primary service. You also tend to do business with them on a consistent basis. A good example might be your CPA or your attorney. It would also be a health care specialist or a business coach.
Again, from my experience, the difference is in the quality and foundation of the relationship.
The type of transaction. Think of a customer in retail or service terms such as when transacting a store purchase, or when one hires a vendor to perform a service (plumber cable guy, etc.); while a client is generally a more complex (and usually longer) ongoing relationship as with professionals like attorneys, advertising agencies and B-to-B companies selling higher dollar products and services with longer sales cycles than quick service and retail transactions and fulfillment.
Hi, Asmaa, I think all of the answers below are excellent. The comparison I can draw is this: I am a customer at the supermarket where I shop -- a regular customer. I go in, pick up things I need, and I like that store. I am a client at my hair salon. At the salon, I have much more of a relationship with the service provider -- the services are totally personalized to me, we talk about our lives, and I know she has my best interest in mind, wanting to use her skills to make me happy. I am also a client with my tax accountant, with whom there is also much more of a relationship, as I go to him for advice anytime I make purchases etc. -- and again, it's totally personalized and I trust him to use his skills and knowledge to help me. I hope this is helpful.
My answer would be a client is someone you have a long-term relationship with and expect to have repeat business from, you have a bigger picture of their situation with respect to the kind of work you do from them, whereas a customer sees you once in a while (maybe only once) at most, needs you to do something less comprehensive and you don't know the "big picture" about them. That's not to say that "customers" are not worth pursuing - it works well for me to bring in some extra revenue during the slower months, and you never know when a customer might like your services so much they eventually become a "client", with an expanded relationship. There's no hard and fast rule though, and it depends on the type of business.
Like others have said, they are interchangeable but they do have some differences. Customers are usually considered a singular or short term transactional client. Clients are typically a customer that purchases in a more continual relationship with repeat business. I think I just confused it a little more. LOL!
Strictly defined, a customer is someone who buys goods or services from a store or business.
The word "client" can also mean "customer," according to the American Heritage Dictionary, but it has a separate definition as someone who receives professional services.
In business, the two terms are often applied differently based on the types of relationships built. Customers are generally people who come to you mainly to buy products or services you supply. Clients buy your advice and solutions personalized to their particular needs.
This is an interesting question and there is no real right answer to it.
In most cases customers and clients are used interchangeable although traditionally as Dalia Alfred has suggested the use of “Client” is more often used in case of repeat business or ongoing relationships such as with Accountants, Lawyers, or Service Industry in general.
We are in service industry but we use the term interchangeably and with interesting results. Support services and engineering tend to talk about Clients and sales as you would expect tends to talk about “Customer”. Regardless of this both groups agree “The customer is always right!”, so does that mean Clients are sometimes wrong? Probably support engineers would say “Yes mostly wrong or misinformed!” but still they treat their Clients as if they are always right (and so we should even if Clients are misinformed).
Our contract is titles “Customer Service Agreement” whilst within the contract we mention “Client Confidentiality”.
Confused? You should be, because I am!
Interestingly enough, we operate in Spain so most of us are bilingual (to more or lesser degree). Spanish is the closest European language to the original Latin or as it was known in Iberia “Romanesque” which was Roman spoken by the commoners (Soldiers, etc.).
In Spanish there is only one word for Customers or Clients namely “Clientes” pronounced “Klien-tes”. So there you have it, the grammatical and correct use of the word is always “Clients” as the origin of the word “Customer” comes from “One that Consumes” or “user”(uso or usanza). Read what you will into that one :-)
The terms are ultimately semantics and yours and your team's attitude is what matters.
A customer buys a product once. A client is a customer who purchases a product more than one time- a repeated purchase.