Do You Have Customers or Clients?
Does your business have customers or clients? Are you a customer or a client of other businesses?
You may be wondering if there is even a difference and, if so, why it even matters.
While many similarities exist between what customers and clients are, key differences distinguish the two, and successful business owners and entrepreneurs understand this.
A good place to start looking at what separates customers and clients is to look at industries that typically have one type or the other.
Some businesses that generally have customers include restaurants, retail stores, vehicle service stations, banks, hardware stores, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues.
Industries that are typically frequented by clients include law firms, health care providers, accounting firms, financial advisors, talent agencies, and other providers.
What is Purchased?
Part of the distinction between customers and clients may be a little clearer with the examples above, but it also helps to look at what is purchased by these shoppers.
Customers usually buy goods, products, and the service that comes with them. Many times, they spend money to get a tangible product, along with any type of service that comes with the product, such as a server bringing food to a table at a restaurant.
Clients generally purchase a professional service that includes personalized advice and service that is unique to their situation at the time. Such help could include an accountant preparing a year-end tax filing for a family.
When it comes to the buyer’s focus, there is a clear difference between customers and clients.
Customers, in large part, make purchases based on price, value, and convenience. They want the most “bang for their buck,” and typically aren’t partial as to what business they find that from.
Clients, on the other hand, typically buy on experience and trust. Instead of being steered by price, they frequent businesses they feel comfortable working with and believe will best help meet their needs.
The difference between the buyer’s focus leads directly into the key difference of loyalty between customers and clients.
Customers may be one-time or repeat buyers from a business, but they generally lack loyalty. If they find a better value at another business, they will readily switch.
Conversely, clients are much more loyal shoppers and are far more likely to continue services with the same business over time due to deeper professional relationships that they develop over time.
There is much overlap between what customers and clients are, but also some key differences, most importantly as it relates to loyalty.
Customers typically give something (money) to get something (product) while clients enjoy interactions where they work together with a business to find solutions.
Some businesses have wisely attempted to create more repeat customers, moving them closer to being clients, through loyalty programs, personalized advertising, and more personal interactions.
All business owners should continue to find ways to personalize their attention to all customers and attempt to convert them into clients, rather than just customers.
Visa Business Plans is led by Marco Scanu, a certified coach from the University of Miami with a globally-based practice coaching Fortune 1000 company executives, entrepreneurs, as well as professionals in 4 different continents. Mr. Scanu advises clients on turnaround strategies and crisis management.
Mr. Scanu received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (Cum Laude) from the University of Florida and an MBA in Management from Bocconi University in Milan, Italy. Mr. Scanu was also a Visiting Scholar at Michigan State University under the prestigious H. Humphrey Fellowship (Fulbright program) with a focus on Entrepreneurship, Venture Capital, and high-growth enterprises.
At present, Mr. Scanu is the managing partner and CEO at Visa Business Plans, a Miami-based boutique consulting firm providing attorneys and investors with business planning services in the areas of U.S. and Canadian immigration, SBA loans, and others.