Difference Between Client and Customer

When I think about the difference between a client and a customer, it comes down to the depth of the relationship. A customer is someone who purchases goods or services from a business, on a transactional basis. It’s a straightforward exchange where the focus is primarily on the product or service being provided.

A client implies a more ongoing and personal relationship.As a client, there’s a level of trust and collaboration with the business, involving customized solutions, personalized attention, and a deeper understanding of individual needs.

Client vs Customer

Comparison Chart

Parameter of ComparisonCustomerClient
What I buyProducts or general servicesProfessional services or expertise
Think of it as…A one-time visit to the storeHiring a consultant or specialist
My relationshipTransactional – I pay, they provideMore personal – ongoing communication, trust
Level of serviceStandardized, self-serve optionsCustomized solutions, tailored advice
ExamplesGrocery store shopper, clothing retailerLawyer, accountant, marketing agency

What is a Client?

A client is a person or organization that hires a professional such as a lawyer, banker, accountant, or architect. The client is the professional’s customer.

The professional is obligated to act in the best interests of the customer. The client-professional relationship is one of trust. To keep the client’s trust, the expert must be competent and ethical.

Clients are people who pay for services. Clients are the lifeblood of any firm; without them, it would perish. Client satisfaction leads to repeat business and referrals, therefore, it is in a company’s best interest to keep its customers satisfied.

Types of Clients

Clients can be categorized into various types based on their characteristics and interactions with the service provider. Some common types include:

1. Individual Clients:

Individual clients are single persons who procure services or products for personal use or consumption. This category includes consumers purchasing goods from retailers, seeking professional services like legal or financial advice, or subscribing to entertainment services such as streaming platforms.

2. Business Clients:

Business clients are organizations, enterprises, or institutions that procure services or products to support their operations or fulfill specific needs. These clients may include small businesses, corporations, non-profit organizations, government agencies, or educational institutions.

3. Institutional Clients:

Institutional clients are large entities that have specialized requirements and significant purchasing power. This category includes entities such as investment funds, pension funds, insurance companies, and other financial institutions that engage in complex transactions and investments.

Roles and Responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of a client can vary depending on the nature of the relationship with the service provider. However, common responsibilities include:

1. Defining Requirements:

Clients are responsible for clearly articulating their needs, preferences, and objectives to the service provider. This involves detailing specifications, expectations, and desired outcomes to ensure that the delivered services or products meet their requirements.

2. Providing Feedback:

Clients play a crucial role in providing feedback to the service provider throughout the engagement process. This feedback helps the service provider understand the client’s satisfaction levels, identify areas for improvement, and make necessary adjustments to deliver optimal results.

3. Making Payments:

Clients are obligated to fulfill their financial obligations by making timely payments for the services or products they receive from the service provider. This may involve adhering to payment terms outlined in contracts or agreements between the parties.

What is a Customer?

A customer is someone who purchases goods or services from a company. Customers are vital to businesses because they supply the revenue that allows them to stay in business. Businesses would cease to exist if they did not have clients.

Customers are classified into three types: new customers, loyal customers, and potential customers. To be successful, businesses must first understand who their customers are and what they want.

Customers are required for a firm to stay afloat and be profitable. Customers are critical to businesses, and they must be treated well.

Types of Customers

1. Consumer Customers

Consumer customers are individuals who purchase products or services for personal use or consumption. They may buy goods ranging from everyday essentials like groceries and clothing to luxury items such as electronics and jewelry. Understanding consumer preferences and trends is essential for businesses targeting this segment.

2. Business Customers

Business customers, also known as B2B (business-to-business) customers, are organizations that buy goods or services to support their operations. They may include corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and educational institutions. Building strong relationships and providing value-added solutions are key to retaining business customers.

3. Retail Customers

Retail customers are those who purchase goods from stores for personal or household consumption. They may shop at brick-and-mortar stores, online retailers, or a combination of both. Retailers focus on creating positive shopping experiences and offering competitive prices to attract and retain these customers.

4. Wholesale Customers

Wholesale customers are businesses that buy goods in bulk from manufacturers or distributors and then resell them to retailers or end consumers. They benefit from lower prices due to economies of scale and negotiate favorable terms with suppliers. Efficient logistics and supply chain management are critical for serving wholesale customers effectively.

5. Loyal Customers

Loyal customers are individuals or organizations that repeatedly choose to buy from a particular seller or brand. They are driven by factors such as quality, customer service, and brand loyalty. Cultivating loyalty through rewards programs, personalized communication, and exceptional service can lead to long-term relationships and increased customer lifetime value.

Difference Between Client and Customer

Relationship Dynamics:

  1. Client: Implies a more long-term and personalized relationship. Typically involves ongoing or repeat transactions. Clients seek specific expertise or services from a provider, fostering a deeper level of trust and understanding.
  2. Customer: Generally refers to a more transactional relationship. Customers may engage with a business for a one-time purchase or service, with less emphasis on long-term rapport.

Level of Engagement:

  1. Client: Typically involves higher levels of engagement and interaction. Clients may collaborate closely with service providers, providing feedback and input throughout the process.
  2. Customer: Engagement may be more limited and focused primarily on the transaction itself. Customers may not have as much direct involvement in the delivery of the product or service.

Customization and Personalization:

  1. Client: Often receives tailored solutions or services to meet specific needs or preferences. Service providers may customize their offerings based on the unique requirements of each client.
  2. Customer: May have access to standardized products or services that cater to a broader audience. While some customization options may be available, the focus is on efficiency and scalability rather than individualization.

Expectations and Responsibilities:

  1. Client: Both parties have clear expectations and responsibilities outlined in a formal agreement or contract. Clients may expect a higher level of accountability and professionalism from service providers.
  2. Customer: Expectations may be more straightforward and transaction-focused, such as receiving the product or service as described within a certain timeframe. There may be less formal documentation of expectations in a customer-provider relationship.

Longevity and Loyalty:

  1. Client: Tends to foster long-term relationships and loyalty between the client and service provider. Clients may return for additional services or engage in ongoing collaborations based on trust and satisfaction.
  2. Customer: Loyalty may be more variable and influenced by factors such as price, convenience, or brand reputation. Customers may switch between providers more frequently based on changing needs or preferences.

Communication and Feedback:

  1. Client: Communication channels are open and frequent, allowing for ongoing dialogue and feedback between both parties. Service providers may actively seek input from clients to ensure alignment with their expectations.
  2. Customer: Communication tends to be more transactional and focused on immediate needs. While feedback mechanisms may still exist, they may be less formalized or prioritized compared to client relationships.

Value Perception:

  1. Client: Often perceives the relationship as more valuable beyond the immediate transaction. Clients may place a premium on the expertise, reliability, and personalized attention they receive from service providers.
  2. Customer: Value perception may be more centered on the product or service itself, with less emphasis on the provider-client relationship. Customers may prioritize factors such as price, quality, or convenience when evaluating value.


  1. https://meridian.allenpress.com/accounting-review/article-abstract/78/4/931/53295
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11301-008-0032-8