Hello everyone, it was great to be back with another post in the series of English synonyms. For those of you who are new, synonym refers to the words which are similar in the meaning.

Anyways, in today topic, we are going to figure out the differences in the pair of words Customer vs Client. The two words are both nouns and have the same meaning: a person who receives the product or service. However, that does not mean they are replaceable. In many cases, you can only use either one of them. As a matter of fact, this article will guide you how to distinguish between customer and client  and use them correctly.

Without further ado, let’s get in!

Customer

Customer /ˈkʌs.tə.mɚ/ is a person who purchases goods or a service from the company, in exchange for monetary consideration (according to Cambridge Dictionary).

This words actually derived from the term “custom” in Latin which means “practice”. Therefore, you can also understand that customer indicates people with the habit of buying the goods very often.

Example:

A customer came back to complain about the product.

Customers queue up to wait for the store to open.

The company attract customers by offering sales promotion.

Client

Client /ˈklīənt/, on the other hand, is more specifically refers to the people who are the recipients of a service in general.

It can be consulting services, solutions, advice from experts for each specific case of each customer. As a result, the place like legal services provided by the lawyer, the services of a chartered accountant, consultant, insurance agent, advertising agency, fashion designer, interior decorator and so on will be where client go to.

Example:

This client has her own requirement on her hair.

He spent all day advising the new client about her insurance problem.

The lawyer insisted on the client’s innocence.

Key factors to distinguish between customer vs client

The above part has provided you the basic notion and meaning of the two words In this part, we will go deeply into the differences between them. In detail, I am going to help you to distinguish between customer and client based on context.

Customer

Client

People who buy products or service. People who use professional or specialized service.
The business tries to sell products and services to customers On contrary, the firms focus on serving clients
The place where customers go to would normally be retail stores, restaurants, service stations, supermarkets, banks and amusement parks. For client, the place they go to are law offices, graphic design firms, talent agencies, accounting firms, health care providers.
Ex: When the customer tried to return her television at the store, the cashier directed her to customer service instead.            

=> In this case, the subject should be customer but not client. Television is a product, not professional service. Secondly, he/she went to retail store. Therefore, the perfect word for this context is customer.

Ex: The firm fired one of its Certified Public Accountants because her behavior caused them to lose an important client.

=> Certified Public Accountant belongs to the accountant firm which providing accountant service to people. Each person might has different issue. Therefore, it is professional and specialized service, not a general product or service. In this case, client would be true instead of customer.

Exercises

In the previous parts, I have explained the usage and the elements to distinguish between customer and client. In general, they are the same in usage but different in the context that they refer to.

Now, as to make you memorize them better, let’s take this quiz

Client or Customer?

  1. My client/customer is waiting for me. She wants me to design a website for her.

A: Where are you going?

B: Lotteria. I’m gonna buy fried chicken and a burger.

A: You like their service?

B: Kind of. They treat the Client/customer pretty well

  1. If you need an advice, go for consultant. They help client/customer with all the issue.
  2. Do you know the client/customer who purchase a book yesterday, she came back today to return.

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Do not forget to periodically review and practice to distinguish between customer and client. This will assist in making your communication skills to be more natural and fluent.

See you later and good luck.

Key:

  1. client
  2. customer
  3. client
  4. customer

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