Client vs. Customer....

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by iGary, Jul 8, 2006.

  1. iGary Guest


    May 26, 2004
    Randy's House
    Is it just me, or do people (perhaps me, too) use the word "client" to make their work sound more prestigious?

    I caught myself doing this a lot and call my peeps "customers" now.

    I also love when my significant other says soemthing like "Yeah, I have a conference call today." Uh, you mean a phone call?

  2. rdowns macrumors Penryn


    Jul 11, 2003
    We use the term client at my company but we refer to our Customer Service group as Customer Care to our clients. I think client sounds more professional. To me customers come to you whereas client's business is earned.

    I also have a lot of conference calls between our 2 offices and clients where I'm speaking to 2 or more people there.
  3. BakedBeans macrumors 68040


    May 6, 2004
    What's Your Favorite Posish
    I consider customers (although technically wrong) to be the people buying physical goods and clients thatcome to you for a service (which is the meaning of client), i use client for people that have an account really.

    I don't think there is anything wrong with it per se, but it is often used to bulk self importance :)
  4. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    To me, clients (in an design sense and whether they're internal or external) have an ongoing and advisory relationship with you that lifts it beyond the perfunctory level of a simple transaction.
  5. Applespider macrumors G4


    Jan 20, 2004
    looking through rose-tinted spectacles...
    Customers buy something which you sell which is available in a limited number of designs/colours/sizes

    Clients buy something which you design for them and involved input from both sides.

    Unfortunately, both are always right... ;)
  6. Deepdale macrumors 68000


    May 4, 2005
    New York
    For many years IRS referred to the public as taxpayers, which is a perfectly respectable and accurate term. Then "customers" became fashionable ... last time I checked, no merchandise of value is available from IRS unless one is especially fond of using forms and brochures for wallpapering purposes.
  7. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

    Aug 1, 2004
    The City of Culture, Englandshire
    I think that sums it up pretty well. Thinking about it, the only people we tend to refer to as customers are those we don't like that much, the good 'uns are clients. It's an entirely unintentional thing, honest. :D

    I noticed too a few years back that the rail companies stopped referring to the people travelling on their trains as 'passengers' and started referring to them as 'customers'. I suppose the difference there is that if you're a customer then that covers selling you a ticket, if you're a passenger then that means they actually have to provide you with a working train to travel on...
  8. BakedBeans macrumors 68040


    May 6, 2004
    What's Your Favorite Posish
    A customer is someone who buys a product OR service from an organisation or shop.

    A client is a person (or indeed a company) that uses a service of a professional person or company.
  9. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

    Apr 3, 2004
    Adelaide, Australia
    Calling them clients make me sound like a hooker. I still interchange it with customer though...
  10. ejb190 macrumors 65816


    At the Disney Parks they are "Guests", not customers

    Whatever works...
  11. XNine macrumors 68040


    Apr 7, 2005
    Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?

    Same here (we're in the same line of work) and usually if I'm trying to talk someone up when they're aggravated I use the word "client," as it gains more respect. It shows them that I'm not blowing them off.
  12. OutThere macrumors 603


    Dec 19, 2002

    2 a : a person who engages the professional advice or services of another <a lawyer's clients>

    1 : one that purchases a commodity or service

    customer is a more simplistic relationship. If you're meeting with the person, having discussion, giving advice, doing push-pull, then it's a client relationship. If they browse-n-buy, they're a customer.
  13. displaced macrumors 65816


    Jun 23, 2003
    Gravesend, United Kingdom
    Despite being vehemently against unnecessary business-speak, I use 'client' rather than customer, purely because it's the most appropriate word for what our company's involved in.

    However, I'll never ask for something to be "actioned". I bristle whenever I'm asked to "action" something -- last time I checked, I was a human being, not a computer awaiting instructions. Hearing "action" instead of "do" will not make me do it faster, or consider it (or the person asking) more important or intelligent. If I mean "in the future", I'll say that instead of saying "going forward" and making that irritating rolling hand motion that people believe means something because of managerial group-think.

    Grr. :D
  14. Ugg macrumors 68000


    Apr 7, 2003
    They're somewhat interchangeable but what really gets me is something like "skill set" or "feature set". What, like you have a matching set of skills? Business jargon infuriates me. Why don't people speak in plain English?
  15. Queso macrumors G4

    Mar 4, 2006
    Disney Parks also don't have "Staff", only "Cast members". Even the burger sellers get listed in the credits apparently :D

    Clients to me describes and ongoing business relationship rather than single transaction affair, which would designate someone as a customer. Either word works just as well though I suppose, so I see your point iGary.
  16. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

    Aug 1, 2004
    The City of Culture, Englandshire
    Of course, you can only action something if you've 'taken ownership'. I've been hearing that term used more and more over the past six months or so and it really does get on my wick...
  17. annk Administrator


    Staff Member

    Apr 18, 2004
    Somewhere over the rainbow
    I've lived away from the States for too long, I don't understand ANY of this. :confused:

    I thought action was a noun, it was back in 1987 when I moved to Norway, anyway. Skill set, is that a description of one's skills? As in "I can play the accordian and juggle cats at the same time"? And feature set, that'd be "the accordian has several thousand buttons and the cats can all speak Russian" type of thing?
  18. scem0 macrumors 604


    Jul 16, 2002
    back in NYC!
    I can make myself sound fancy with my work as well:

    I work for a programming firm testing Voice over IP systems for 911 call data transfers.

    when I really just got a temporary job from my aunt dialing 911 and making sure they get the right data - over and over and over and over again all day long :).

  19. Jaffa Cake macrumors Core

    Jaffa Cake

    Aug 1, 2004
    The City of Culture, Englandshire
    A 'skill set' is basically the stuff you can do. And if someone's 'actioning' something, they're doing something. I think it's just a way of making dull and mundane tasks sound more important. As in, "The photocopier needs more paper putting in. Can you action that?"

    You're a very important and special young professional if you take ownership of a task like that. :)
  20. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Whether they are a client or customer, if they become a drag on customer services resources and don't command a premium price -- it's time to look at them again.

    To use the lawyer term, sometimes it is better to fire your client, and sleep better at night.

    Unless they are a prestige client that compensates for the trouble by bringing in clients to make up for the trouble they cause.

    Client or customer, you can fire either -- or profit from either.
  21. displaced macrumors 65816


    Jun 23, 2003
    Gravesend, United Kingdom
    Is that pro-active?


    The hilarious thing is, my company's directors are about 10 years behind in corporate-speak. I nearly blew a mouthful of water across the meeting room when our ops director said,

    "I was at an interesting conference yesterday. We discussed paradigms, and more specifically paradigm shifts. I hadn't heard of that before. Does anyone else know what that means?"


    I couldn't help myself. I launched into a dictionary definition of 'paradigm', and how 'paradigm shifts' (a phrase originally coined in the sixties) were pretty run-of-the-mill for an IT department. A brief run-down on how each of our past and current projects had represented what they'd call a 'paradigm shift' put the point across nicely that the phrase was pretty meaningless, without me having to actually use that word.

    I don't know whether the guy was annoyed that I'd rained on his parade, or absurdly happy that we were 'ahead of the game' :D Probably a bit of both. Either way, my manager thought the whole meeting was hilarious. Luckily, my company has more of the straight-talking good guys than the windbag useless type.
  22. spicyapple macrumors 68000


    Jul 20, 2006
    Some wedding photographers call their work 'assignments' as if they are shooting for National Geographic or documenting something as dangerous as a war.

    Let's not forget selling their photographs as 'commissioned works of art'. :rolleyes:
  23. baby duck monge macrumors 68000

    baby duck monge

    Feb 16, 2003
    Memphis, TN
    Brilliant. Simply brilliant.

    Of course, the job sounds awful when you find out what it really is, but your description makes it sound amazingly technical. :p

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