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Difference Between Client and Customer

customersClient vs Customer

In our service orientated corporate climate, consideration for the end user is often paramount in the decision making process of any major company. At the other end of the scale, even the newest fast food worker is indoctrinated with how to provide the best service to the ‘guests’ of his or her restaurant. While both of these examples can be considered to be within the realm of customer service, it is a more accurate description to say that the corporation is more concerned with client service whereas a fast food restaurant is more concerned with customer service.

The Definition of Customer and Client
Customer ‘“ is a person who pays money in order to purchase services or goods from another person or company.
Client ‘“ is also a person who purchases services or goods. However, there are other definitions for client as well, such as someone who is under the protection of another person. It can also mean someone who receives long term benefits or services from another person whether or not they pay for them.

Etymology of Customer and Client
Customer ‘“ first started to be used in late Middle English, the English of Chaucer. It refers to customs and a customs officer, a person who collects a fee on the passage of good through a fixed point.
Client ‘“ has been in use since Roman times. It was originally used to describe states or rulers that were clients of the Roman Empire. These clients were granted protection and trade in exchange for a vow of loyalty to the Empire.

Modern Uses of Customer and Client
Customer ‘“ implies a short term, primarily economic relationship. A customer generally comes into a store, purchases something, and then leaves. Sometimes, if someone is a long time customer they will receive the title best or favorite client from the retailer or restaurateur.
Client ‘“ has a more professional ring to it. When you employ the services of a professional such as a lawyer or therapist you become their client. In business too, companies that buy in bulk from other companies over a long period of time are referred to as clients. Clients have more prestige than customers.

Other Implications of Customer and Client
Customer ‘“ is connotatively neutral. Being a customer has no judgment attached to it.
Client ‘“ because of the protection aspect of the relationship can sometimes have a negative spin to it because of the client services of the Mafia.

1. Customer and client, while they essentially refer to people who buy things, have different shades of meaning.
2.Clients are people who have a long term relationship with a service provider whereas a customer has a short term relationship.
3.Clients sometimes also have a relationship of protection or additional services with their provider while this is not present in a customer-provider relationship.
4.The word client usually has a connotation that implies professionalism and stability while customers are pretty connotatively neutral.

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  1. Hi,

    well I’ve been searching or browsing the details for the “Difference between Client and Customer.”

    Thanks for the information about the difference between Client and Customer.
    Happy that it was set with examples.

    Thanks again for the information


  2. Thank you! Very cool & awfully informative website. It answers most of my questions regarding which I have always been doubtful.

  3. Hey guys, what a cool website! Thanks for the information.

  4. Thank you very much.

    This site is a Wikipedia – II , no doubt about it.

    Keep it up.


  5. Very informative, i was searching for the difference and the given explanation is very helpful.

  6. Wow! this saved my day! Thank you very much!
    I like the statement, “Client ‘“ has a more professional ring to it.” Then I stopped reading and suddenly decided that “client satisfaction” is the best phrase for my article.

    Thanks Again!

  7. I disagree with the meanings. To me, the term customer is so much warmer than client. I currently work in a home health care facility. For me to be in their shoes, and call me a customer vs client is the better choice.

    • Could it be a cultural thing?

      I indeed was thought to use always customer instead of client, and interestingly enough it was an American English school.

  8. thank you very much

  9. My children needed SF 1034 this month and discovered a business that has an online forms library .

  10. Thanks for the distinction.

    As a non-native speaker I was taught by a very reputed English school I should always use the work “customer”, as “client” is demeaning, as it used for people who uses the service of “ladies”, or at least was what I understood at the time.

    I definitively remember the part about them telling to always substitute client for customer.

  11. Very good information.


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