Think of customer and clients in terms of the relationships you have in your life and the stories you know about them.
A customer is like an acquaintance, where the relationship is very minimal and most likely formed out of convenience. There is no desire or need to build a deeper or more meaningful relationship as the acquaintance level satisfies the needs of both parties.
A client is like a best friend. This is a strong relationship that is deep and long lasting. You know quite a lot of detailed information about the other individual and they know just as much about you. This relationship works on many levels and satisfies many needs of both parties.
A customer and a client relationship have advantages and disadvantages to them, and your business needs to be able to identify and understand the difference.
An individual will form expectations depending on how your marketing presents the message and how the individual perceives it. You and your business associates will form the same expectations based upon the same messaging.
As in the relationship analogy, a customer will use your service out of necessity and convenience. It is as simple as that. A customer is easily persuaded to move to another product or provider if an alternative to yours has been found to satisfy the customer’s need better or is more convenient. However, your business’ commitment level matches that of the customer’s. You only support and provide within the scope and terms of your product or service. Customer relationships are typically many to one, meaning your business satisfies the needs of a greater number of customer compared to the ratio of support.
A client relationship is much more complex and invested for both parties. A client’s needs are significantly higher than that of a customer, and the expectations within the relationship are also greatly increased. The client understands your product or service comes with additional factors and strings that keep them and you committed to the transaction. Clients will come to identify your business as a partner and will hesitate and avoid removing your products and services. This is true for your business as well. Client relationships have a much lower sustainable ratio compared to customers, but are often more rewarding over time.
Your business will most likely have both types, and rightfully so. The type of product or service you provide and the type of message you convey will dictate the quantity and quality of customers or clients your attract.
How do you define your clients?
Leave your answer in the comments below.
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