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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Customers In sales, commerce and economics, a customer (sometimes known as a client, buyer, or purchaser) is the recipient of a good, service, product or an idea - obtained from a seller, vendor, or supplier via a financial transaction or exchange for money or some other valuable consideration. An ultimate etymology of "client" may imply someone merely inclined to do business, whereas a purchaser procures goods or services on occasion but a customer customarily or habitually engages in transactions (historically: the collection of tolls or taxes - see the Wiktionary etymology of customer). Such distinctions have no contemporary semantic weight.
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. a person or group that uses the professional advice or services of a lawyer, accountant, advertising agency, architect, etc.
2. a person who is receiving the benefits, services, etc., of a social welfare agency, a government bureau, etc.
3. a customer.
4. anyone under the patronage of another; a dependent.
5. Computers. a computer or an application on a computer that communicates with a remote server:
Exit the program before installing the patch to update the client.
6. client state.
7. (in ancient Rome) a plebeian who lived under the patronage of a patrician.
Customers are transient. They come to you, or perhaps buy only occasionally from you. There is no close relationship, just transactions.
Clients use you as a trusted advisor — They consider you to be an expert in your field, and a partner in achieving their goals. They want to know you, understand you, and are willing to share their needs and circumstances with you, in the hope that you will tailor your solution to their needs in the best and fairest manner possible.
Clients are nearly always the result of a consultative sales approach. They are developed over time, perhaps via several sale-less visits, fact-finding missions, and tailored presentations that result in a smaller order, and progressively larger orders or projects.
I don't think that the length of the relationship or the number of times someone transacts with a business is a defining factor. For example, many people are loyal to a particular department store, or clothing store, or florist, or restaurant or any manner of businesses. I always go to the same butcher, the same bread shop, the same deli and the same greengrocer and many other places. My greengrocer sees me every few days, as does my butcher and some of the cafes I go to. But, I am a customer of these businesses because the transactions are usually relatively short in duration and normally fairly straightforward exchange of goods and services for money.
I think the defining factor is the depth and intimacy of the relationship. Professional services firms - accounting, law, consulting, advertising, IT, architectural, engineering and so on - have clients. Builders also have clients. The have to get to know me at various levels to properly provide their services, their services are generally fairly complex and are usually not simple transactions.
A customer buys a product once. A client is a customer who purchases a product more than one time- a repeated purchase.
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!
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.
Customers buy products. Clients by services.
The problem now is in hospitals where they are starting to refer to patients and customers.
Nothing. Client is a word invented by the management consulting industry in the early 90s. It was meant to connote that a client has a higher level relationship with the vendor than a mere "customer". Also, clients are long term whereas customers may be transactional.
In my history customers purchased products that you could touch and feel and use like paint...clients purchased professional services
As a HR Consultant my clients or customers are the small businesses I work for. From a project management perspective and this is just hypothetical but shall hopefully help you understand. You could be a Project Manager working with a client to develop a product or service for a particular customer. Therefore we carry out work for clients that will provide a service to customers. As a HR Consultant I carry out work for the client that will provide a service to or benefit employees. Customers can be internal and external.
Recently I have read in Linkedin a difference between Businessman and Entrepreneur. Same thing goes with Customer and Client. Businessman add its value and sell the product what he has purchased, but the Entrepreneur adds its creativity / innovation and sell the conceptual products.
Businessman serve its Customer, whereas Entrepreneur serves its Clients.
A customer buys your product and may purchase from someone else next time. A client has bought into you and your firm. They are repeat clients that prefer to do business with you for other reasons.
The objective is to create a client expierence that make them prefer to do business with you over your competitors.
A Customer is someone over whom you have little or no formal control and who visits you whenever they choose to do so e.g. retail store - but a Client is someone with whom you are more formally engaged for the delivery a specific purpose or service e.g a lawyer or a business consultant..
I think client is the party who keeps on buying or getting the services on reguler basis while a customer who get the product once or one time without returing back again . thats why so many organisation keeps a list of clients mentioning data a bout them from time to time even mentioning total no .I hope this answer satisfies you .
In one point of view, a customer is someone you sell things to; a client is someone for whom you perform professional services.