A customer is someone who purchases products or services from a business. And while the definition of “client” is somewhat synonymous with that, the word specifically refers to individuals retaining professional services. Beyond that, the key difference is found in the relationships the professionals supplying these products and/or services build with customers and clients.
In an article found on the Small Business Chronicle website, author Christian Fisher finds that loyalty often distinguishes customers from clients. He says, “Closer professional relationships are built with clients over time. Businesses such as law offices, graphic design firms, talent agencies, accounting firms, health care providers, and matchmaking services offer ongoing advice and specialized solutions to clients.”
Roger Knecht, vice president of operations for Universal Accounting Center further explains, “A client is someone that an accountant or bookkeeper is working with on a monthly basis, no less than quarterly. This is doing the work and meeting with the client to review. Customers, however, are those that are occasional, those that are not met with regularly…”
If you run your own practice, chances are you could look at your roster now and determine which of those individuals you serve qualify as customers and which qualify as clients. The truth is, your business depends upon you turning customers into loyal and regular clients. To do that, Fisher recommends ensuring that you stand out from the competition, “Through direct contact with and regular feedback from customers, a retailer can respond with customized suggestions and special product and service deals specifically catered to individual customers’ needs.”
As an accountant, you must assess your practice to determine how you might enhance your services offerings to better fulfill customers’ needs. Perhaps that means adding complementary services to your menu or consultation options. Whatever it may be, the focus should be on building a following of loyal clients.
What have you found helps customers become loyal clients? Please leave your feedback!
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Fisher, Christian. “What is the Difference between a Customer vs. a Client?” Small Business Chronicle