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Difference Between Client and Customer

Client vs Customer

Ever wondered why a doctor and a lawyer have only clients, whereas retail shopkeepers, irrespective of items they are selling get customers and not clients? This is a puzzling dichotomy, and what really are the differences between customers and clients. There are people who think that the words are synonyms and can be used interchangeably. This is not true despite there being similarities between customers and clients. However, there are many differences also that justify this classification, and these differences will be highlighted in this article.

If you have clients in your profession (suppose you are a doctor), calling them your customers may hurt them, though this is the basic truth. They consider them as your patients, and may be as your clients but never as your customers. Thinking of oneself as a customer adds an angle of profit and cost in the relationship, which is despised by patients. Though patients pay the doctor money, it is in the form of his consultation fee, and never is this fee conceived of as a compensation for the advice and prescription that the doctor provides. If you as a doctor start calling your patients customers, you may actually alienate them. Let us take a closer look at why patients of a doctor fell hurt when called customers of the doctor. This is because of the feeling of protection they get under a doctor. A customer is simply a person who buys goods or services from a vendor or a shopkeeper. In the case of a client, a special relationship between a doctor and his patient is formed. Same is the case of the clients of a lawyer who gives them legal advice, but more importantly, his clients feel safe under his guidance.

Clients tend to be people who seek advice on many issues, and the relationship with a client is much more personal than with a customer. Even common people perceive the word client as being more respectable than customer, which is why many businesses have changed the name of their customer service department as client service department.

In any business, the difference between a customer and a client is important and needs to be appreciated by the owner of the business if he intends to grow business to new levels. If the clients of a company are looked after and given great service, there is no chance of their moving away, and going to any other company. Clients need to be made aware time to time that you value their association with your business and appreciate their loyalty to the products or services of the company.

In a shopping mall, customers come and go in thousands, and they cannot be termed as clients of the owner of the shop or the mall. There is no denying the fact that after sales service is important even in case of customers. But, the owner of the business does not need to address customers by their names, as is the case with clients in a business.

What is the difference between Client and Customer?

• While both customers and clients serve the same basic motive of profit for a business owner, there are different meanings attached to these words

• Customer is a neutral word, while client connotes relationship with the business owner

• Customer purchases goods or services, whereas client seeks advice though he too makes payment in the form of fee

• Clients need to be looked after personally, which is not the case with customers

• Sensing need for respect, customer services are being renamed as client services these days.


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