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  • Writer's pictureTanya Hilts

Customers or Clients: Which Term do You Use...

Recently I discussed this subject and it got me thinking, what do you call a new business that you bring on Customers or Clients?

As I started my own research on this subject the first thing that popped up was a customer is someone who buys products or services from a company, while a client refers to a certain type of customer who purchases professional services from a business. Generally speaking, customers buy products while clients buy advice and solutions

As I dug a bit deeper, I came across their conventional definitions.


A client is someone who engages in the services of a professional. For example, lawyers, plumbers, freelance writers, accountants, and web designers often work for clients.


A customer buys goods or services from a business (rather than an individual or group of professionals).

As I searched the subject a bit more, I then came across 4 key areas worth thinking about:

  1. Customer type: different companies use different models based on whether they are pursuing short-term customers or Long-term clients

  2. Length of time: The customer journey is generally shorter than the client journey. Customer relationships are about the short term, sometimes only consisting of a one-time transaction. Client relationships retain professional services for a much longer period of time and normally build trust within the relationship.

  3. Marketing Strategy: Depending on whether a company hopes to attract customers or clients, they might take a different approach to how they market.

  4. Relationship Style: Client-centric companies usually provide a lot more personal attention to their individual clients in hopes they will be in a long-term relationship with them.

Though these words each emphasize different things, they have a significant degree of overlap. You can use them interchangeably when speaking in more general terms. Although you may prefer one over the other, note neither is no right or wrong simply just your preference.

Until next time,

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