Do You Have Customers or Clients?

Image of trees with question marks spray painted on them

I promised I’d tell you what I think the difference between clients and customers is, so here you go. Don’t go checking out on me because… yes, there is a difference. Even Webster thinks so. Here’s what he has to say about it:

Customer: Someone that purchases a commodity or service.
Client: Someone that is under the protection of another.

There is a psychological difference, and when you begin to think of your customers as clients you move to a new position of caring. I’m not sure how this happens, but try it for a few days and see if you don’t start to feel differently/more protective of your clients. I have to re-train new employees here to use the word client instead of the word customer that they have used in their past positions. Part of the training, in general, will come from them watching us and how we treat our clients.  

Remembering that they take their lead from me reminds me of a movie I watched recently. In the movie about a football team, the team captain tells a player he has a bad attitude and the player responds, “Attitude reflects leadership, captain!”

That’s dead on.

One final thought on this is that the word protector means you have their best interest at heart. This can happen even in an industry where you tend to think of customers as… well, as customers.

I buy most of my clothes from the same shop. I went in one day and when I got to the register the regular sales lady said: “Mary, these are on sale on Monday.” I told her I’d be out of town so I’d have to miss out on a great deal. She asked if I needed the clothes for the trip. I told her “no” and she said, “What if I hang them in the back room and on Monday I’ll ring them up at the sale price and charge them to your account and you pick them up when you get home?” That retail shop just made me feel like a client.

Isn’t it about time you got rid of all of your customers by turning them into clients?

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