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The Client Definition: Differentiating Customers and Clients

Here at Mr. Thrive Media, we focus on providing personalized services for each and every one of our clients. Our use of the client definition when we refer to the people and businesses we provide services for is specific to our mission. Our goal is to work with clients in a close relationship and provide marketing and podcast production services beyond the norm.

Chaz Volk, our founder, holds a personal belief about the difference between customers and clients. As a whole, our team embodies this different level of business relationship in everything we do. We work with our clients and treat them as partners in the work we do together.

We foster a close relationship that makes the experience more enjoyable and productive for both parties. That relationship starts with our differentiation of customers and clients. We’ll walk you through that difference, and talk about why we focus on the client relationship. For businesses and clients, it’s an important relationship to foster.

What Is a Customer?

We’ll start with a thorough definition of customers. It’s a word we’re all familiar with, but do we ever think too deeply about what it means? The dictionary definition of a customer is, “A person or organization that buys goods or services from a store or business.”

That definition is broad and impersonal. These three facets of the customer definition show that while a customer is an important role for businesses, it’s vastly different from a client.

3. Generalized Services

In a typical customer-business relationship, the services being offered are general and basic. The go-to example is grocery shopping, with the general needs of groceries and other items being available in the store. The service doesn’t go beyond those basic needs, and the experience is helpful but plain. This applies in some way to all customer-business situations.

2. Short-Term Care

When a customer is shopping, the nonverbal agreement is that the situation will be short-term. No one really expects a customer to return to the same grocery store or gas station. Yes, sometimes customers do get in the habit of returning to the same places. There isn’t any sort of agreement or expectation for this loyalty.

1. Impersonal Interactions

There’s nothing wrong with impersonal grocery shopping, but that is a characteristic of a customer-business situation. It’s impersonal and fundamentally something you do entirely for yourself. Yes, the store provides the items you’ll buy. The act of going to the store and finding what you need, however, remains mainly one of your responsibilities.

What Is a Client?

With those customer definition points in mind, let’s set up the client definition in contrast. For a client, the definition is, “A person or organization using the services of a lawyer or other professional person or company.” The explanatory sentence goes into depth about the tailor-made services provided to clients.

From that definition, we can see the personal relationship between a client and a business steps beyond that of a customer. These three facets of the definition of a client are part of the building blocks of our philosophy of business at Mr. Thrive.

3. Professional Services

Most businesses that have clients are within the more professional line of services. That isn’t to say managing a grocery store isn’t a profession, but the term professional services carries a different weight. It is often services within the corporate world, the arts, or a niche discipline.

2. Customized Services

The business approach to working with clients involves services that are customized and personalized to each client. At Mr. Thrive, for example, not every client needs the same blend of podcast production and marketing services.

There are clients who only need our marketing consultation services. There are others who need everything we offer. We customize plans to work for each client.

1. Close Relationships

Building close relationships is a goal and a benefit of working in a client-business situation. On the business end, the close relationship is a benefit for working easily with the client and building trust. For the client, this close relationship gives each client the assurance that they are being helped by a business that cares for them.

Client-Business Relations

The key element of a client-business relationship is the actions of the business that go above and beyond. If you’re a customer of a business, you aren’t going to receive more than a strictly standard amount of help and support. When you’re a client, the business you are working with is going to take an interest in your project and your goals.

That interest develops into a working relationship with ideas and respect being shared. When a business treats its patrons as clients, they’re saying, “We value you and want to work with you to create something new.” That’s a business relationship worth investing in.

Building a Client Base

There are businesses out there that operate on a customer-heavy plan. Often these businesses are grocery stores or restaurants. When you consider the revenue and customer base of those businesses, however, there are also some clients in the mix.

In those cases, clients are typically referred to as regulars. They’re consistent customers who keep coming back to the business they most appreciate. That’s the general idea of having clients–make your business the one they want to return to.

Offering personalized services and a close business partnership helps you get those clients and regulars. It starts with a unique brand. It carries through to the way you reach out to new clients and the way you communicate with current clients.

Frequently Asked Questions About Clients Versus Customers

The difference between customers and clients is something every type of business should have a deep understanding of. For new entrepreneurs and small business owners, it’s an important distinction to understand from the beginning. If you’re a long-term business owner, it’s good to check yearly to see if you’re treating your patrons like customers or clients.

Our answers to these frequently asked questions will guide you further in understanding this difference. Whatever your business or industry is, there’s information here for you.

If you’re at the point where you’re looking to change your business to a client-focused approach, Mr. Thrive can help you along. With our marketing and podcast production support, you can focus on clients while we take care of the rest.

What Is Customer Versus Client In Business?

In business customer versus client is all about how you treat the people coming to you for a service or product. Broadly, people think that customers are more short-term compared to clients. However, that’s a bit too surface-level to fully define the difference.

Ultimately, the difference between a customer and a client for a business is the level of ongoing care and service provided. Clients become a part of your business. You work with them to find unique solutions and better their lives and goals.

Can a Client Be Called a Customer?

Yes, you can–and many places do–use the terms client and customer synonymously. However, there is a key difference that many people use to showcase why the terms should be separate. A client is generally defined as someone who receives professional services. That’s vastly different from a customer shopping at a grocery store.

If you want to be correct with definitions, customer and client should be separate. We see this difference as about more than the definitions, however. When you consider the people you’re providing a product or service to as clients, your mindset shifts. A client is someone you provide deeper care and effort for than a customer.

What Is the Legal Definition of a Client?

This question refers to the definition of a client in terms of the relationship between a lawyer and their client. It’s also a unique perspective on a business client.

The legal definition of a client is, “A client may be an entity, an individual, or a group of entities or individuals. The attorney’s representation of the client is often equally complex, and numerous considerations govern an effective representation. In all cases, the lawyer’s duty is to his or her client.”

This is applicable to business clients in the sense that a business’s duty is to its client. When a business treats its clients well, it has their best interests at heart.

Client Definition: Defining What Client Means To You

The client definition may change depending on the product or service provided. Overall it’s a definition of a partner in your business journey. At Mr. Thrive, we work to build our relationship with clients as we build up their businesses. We’ve combined those two facets of running a business to build a network of clients that we help to thrive in their variety of industries and niche specialties.

If you’re looking to ease your business needs so you can treat your clients as, well, clients, reach out to Mr. Thrive today. Our team of multi-media marketing professionals, podcast producers, voice actors, and virtual assistants can help you become a client-focused business.

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