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Clients or customers?

Client - build a relationship - provide professional advice.

Customer - conduct a transaction - sell goods or services.

I was recently asked to differentiate between clients and customers, if indeed there is a difference, and wondered if the distinction simply related to one’s place in our society or what you are paying for.

Doctors, dentists and veterinary surgeons are well looked in this respect - their own clients can safely be referred to as their “patients”.

The English language has many more words than other languages and although these two words refer to some person (or organisation) who pays money for goods in exchange for that money or for services rendered, the closest I could get to marking the difference was to suggest that clients buy service and customers buy goods.

The value of the goods purchased or the service rendered is what drives our society and is clearly determined by the customer/client. Whether you are regarded by the supplier/vendor as either a client or a customer demands respect and value for money for the goods or services bought.

That is the “bottom line”. Oops – that is an accountant talking!