Client vs Customer: What's the Difference? | Atlasmic Blog
April 22, 2021
Business Growth
8 min read

Client vs Customer: What's the Difference?

Explore the differences between having a client and a customer at your business.

Vaida Lek
Marketing, Atlasmic
In general, the terms “Client” and “Customer” are two terms that are generally used together and labelled as synonyms. But if we were to look at the meaning of both terms and the relationship between businesses and clients or customers, we would be able to see a clear divide and difference between the two. Atlasmic would like to give you insights into the differences and nuances of having a client and having a customer. Let’s begin!

How are clients and customers different?

The best way to determine the difference between client and customer is by dividing the key characteristics into three groups. By defining certain characteristics of a person or company that buys your product/service, you can better understand whether they’re a client or a customer. Those three groups of characteristics are:
  1. Return business
    . A customer is someone who walks into your shop (or visits it online), commits to a one-time purchase, and may never return. A client is someone that isn’t just there for a one-time deal. They are usually long-term customers which offer return business. In general, businesses always prefer to have clients rather than customers (or turn customers into clients) just because they guarantee a more stable source of revenue.
  2. Needs
    . Customers are usually looking for the best price or a good deal. A client is looking for stability and professional service, high-quality products not just now, but probably for the foreseeable future and later down the road. Clients, more often also have higher demands than customers.
  3. Communication level and dependence.
    Businesses are dependent on both clients and customers. However, as we mentioned, due to return business prospects and a chance for a long-term partnership, clients have a stronger relationship with the business and their mood, as well as actions, can change the course of action or force the business to reverse certain strategies and vice versa.
To shortly sum things up, you can label clients
as returning, long-term customers
that have higher demands for a business and more specific needs.
Online stores (usually retail) can, of course, live off of just having customers. However, such a business model requires much more investment into advertising and marketing, to keep the revenue flow as stable as possible. Turning one-time into repeat business is key in order to build a self-sustaining retail business. If we talk about wholesale and B2B economy, one-time customers are always no more than a medium-level priority. All wholesalers prefer to do repeat business and even sign contracts to secure business in the future.

Should you strive to have more clients or customers?

When customers should be your No.1 priority

A good question to ask, and a hard question to answer, really. Generally speaking, it’s always better to have clients because you are always guaranteed to have some of their business. However, in some areas, making customers into clients is really difficult, time-consuming, expensive, or hardly possible.
For example, let’s take a niche dropshipping store or a specific one-product store that sells only one item - for example - a unique shape pillow. A person could buy them, like them, and return to buy a few more units for his family members or a gift to a colleague, a friend.
But in reality, sellers should always look at products or services that they’re selling to understand that most of the products have a ceiling or limit of how much a person (a customer) can buy. Getting back to the pillow example, even if they like the product very much, the limit is 2-3 units, maybe a few more in exceptionally rare cases. However, it’s not likely that they will come back to buy the same exact pillow after this one is worn out. They’ll be looking for something new(er) and better.
Trying to force repeat business in such niches will likely result in expensive marketing with little result. So, in the case of dropshipping stores or more precisely - one-product stores, the main goal should be to attract as many one-time customers, as possible. Rather than investing in repeat business and doing loyalty programs, focus on flash deals and other stuff which is geared towards impulse buying.

When a client is a more desirable option

Clients are always better if you provide goods or services in the B2B sector. More clients are always the goal for businesses that sell subscriptions or offer consumable goods and services. Clothes can also be labelled as consumables because they go out of style (e.g. are sort of consumed).
So, if you are investing in collections, branding, technologies, have an R&D department or continuously upgrade your products and/or services, you should look into ways that help lure in more clients.
Customers are always a nice bonus to have, but the financial benefit that they bring in can be irregular and fluctuate over time. Every business wants a stable revenue, so they can plan ahead. If you have clients, that’s easier to do, opposed to situations, when customers are your primary source of revenue.

How to attract more customers and clients?

If we talk about customers and clients, we should also cover the best ways to attract them, wouldn’t you agree? In reality, the whole point of marketing, in general, is to just attract new and/or retain existing customers.
In order to reduce your customer churn rate, you have to be able to meet their needs and demands. This sounds really basic and simple on paper, but with so many variables in every situation, it’s actually quite difficult to do in real life.
Our first recommendations would be to:
  • Listen to your customers & clients
  • Provide high-quality support and service
  • Improve customer experience in every way
  • Modernize your systems and user interfaces
If you’d look at the chart below, you’d also find another area to improve on. We recommend implementing Atlasmic to your shop or business online in order to help out your support staff do their job better!

How to get more customers?

Getting more customers is usually down to picking a good marketing/advertising strategy and offering good value for money.
If you have the brand prestige, reputation or exclusive goods/services to offer, you can get customers with the right advertising strategy. If you’re in retail, you can also see our blog about the 8 best retail marketing strategies. In that post, we cover the ins and outs of finding whatever works for your business and how to market the hell out of it!
The most important piece of information which helps when picking a good advertising strategy is the knowledge of your potential customer and audience. By knowing their traits and likes, you can tailor ads and programmes to attract their attention.
If you want more sustainable results, here are a few more pointers that help towards creating a more fluent experience for your customers and why customer service matters!

How to get more clients?

If we talk about clients, the most crucial thing is to make them feel important and listened to. If you tailor your services around their needs (keep in mind, they might change over time), you can definitely keep a great reputation and by word-of-mouth, advertise your business across the market.
In retail, businesses are always trying to chase the quick buck, forgetting about the essential nature of return business. If you’re a retailer, the next chart could be a wake-up call for you.
Shocking, right? As the survey suggests, only 8% of retail customers feel like they’re listened to and heard, when they voice a complaint or give a suggestion. This definitely isn’t a good look for retail businesses across the board. The best way to change this is to try and involve your clients in more and more of what you do. For example, you could create loyalty programs or exclusive VIP clubs for long-term clients with exclusive access, benefits, etc.
Moreover, you should definitely look at the customer support solutions and think over whether they suit your business needs. Atlasmic might be a better solution because it’s tailored to suit the dynamic and ever-changing landscape of modern-day business.
In general, we would suggest looking at your organization as a whole, if you want to attract more clients. Try to find weak links in your service and customer experience sectors and eliminate them one by one. After doing so, you’re guaranteed to have more return business!

Summary

So, as we’ve covered, a client is really just a returning customer. Clients have more needs and higher demands, but in return, they offer loyalty and a more stable source of revenue. However, most dropshippers just aren’t able to attract return business, which is why their interest should be solely focused on getting those impulse purchases. We sincerely hope that the article was useful and that the strategies which we covered, will help your business reach its goals!
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