Customer vs. Client: Is There a Difference?

Customer vs. Client: Is There A Difference?

Customer vs. Client: Is There a Difference?

A “customer” can be defined in different ways, as can a “client.” How do you know when a customer is a client, or the other way around? Should you treat a customer any differently than you would a client?

Does it even matter?

The answer is, it depends. But before we weigh in on the importance of the two terms, let’s look at a few different frameworks for the use of the terms customer and client: longevity, scope of work and industry, and depth of the relationship.


A graphic designer may work with a client for a 6-month long project. A stockbroker may handle one client’s portfolio for 20 years. However, longevity becomes irrelevant in businesses that have customers for life. The customer who visits a clothing shop every single year to purchase a suit, some ties, and a pair of shoes will probably never become a “client” in this scenario. However, the relationship between the shop and that lifetime customer can easily outlast those of the designer and the stockbroker combined.

The takeaway: Both the longevity and customer lifetime value of the shop customer might be greater than the design client or the investor. Longevity is generally not a good differentiator of customer versus client. Read More