We talk a lot about “customers”, and sometimes we discuss “clients”. What is the difference, and which do you want: clients, or customers? Do the terms make a difference, and what do the words mean for you? Is there the same difference for everyone? In my opinion, there is a difference between the terms “clients” and “customers”.
We have discussed that we all should have networking partners, those people with whom you have a relationship that fosters your mutual success. All your business relationships do not always become customers or clients. However, they still may be valuable partners in your success.
What are customers? They are the people who have a business relationship with you, buying your product or service. They may also be someone from whom you buy products or services. Someone does not have to be a customer for the two of you to pass referrals or advice or other assistance. That is part of being a networking partner.
In my opinion, the term “customer” implies a shallower relationship, someone who just receives your product or service for the price that they pay. The relationship usually stops there. Not everyone defines the word in this manner, and I certainly do not imply that those of you who use this term do not “go the extra mile” for your customers. Many of you do.
I consider everyone who trusts me to provide a service to be a “client”. This is someone for whom I provide a valid service for a valid price, dealing with them in a professional manner. It is also someone to whom I will show that I am passionate about my service, providing them the best support both before and after the purchase. Finally, the relationship is one in which both of us can be personable, being at ease with each other and totally honest.
Does that mean that others are not professional, passionate, or personable with their customers? No; it just is my way of holding myself to the highest business standard for which I can strive. It is also my way of urging others to attain that level. The term “client” implies to me that I have to provide the best service possible, pushing myself to be the best there is, stepping up my efforts when I meet someone else who does the same.
Perhaps a client is someone whom you advise not to purchase a product or service from you when it will not be in their best interest. Perhaps a customer is someone who is difficult to coach in the best use of your product or service. Perhaps you do not consider that there is a difference between the two terms. Perhaps you believe that each is the same as the other.
I need that little kick in the backside sometimes to remind myself that I need to frequently review my behavior toward those with whom I do business. I also know that I appreciate those with whom I do business who treat me as a client rather than a customer. I always take this “treating others as I want to be treated” as my guiding light and standard.
While I do not mean to argue with those of you who consider your business relationships as customers instead of clients; I am just pointing out that sometimes we need to “push” ourselves with our marketing terms. Whatever works for you may not work for all of us, but realize that your marketing terminology may impact you as well as those to whom that marketing is directed.
I anticipate this posting provoking all levels of comments from people who either agree with me or not. Please leave me those comments or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com or call me at 360-314-8691. I answer my phone, I return messages, and I respond to emails.