Difference between a customer and a client

There’s a difference between being a customer and being a client.  People on both ends of a relationship always get into trouble when they don’t understand this.

A customer – is always right

A client – expects to hear the truth, especially when it’s unpleasant

This is true in professional relationships.  Doctors, lawyers, accountants are expected to provide good advice in their professional relationship — but their customers are always right.  Reports should be: on time, of high quality, and delivered at a fair price.

The same goes for religious relationships.  When we are in the worship service, we are the clients of the person leading the show.  But we customers are right — the coffee should taste good, the roof shouldn’t leak and we have every right to be treated with respect.

In higher education the student customer should get good value for their tuition dollar, grades should arrive on time, campus services should be superb and their teachers should be engaged and respectful.  But the student is the client of the teacher when it comes to grades and feedback on their work.

The relationship between the regulated and the regulator is a mix of services (a customer relationship), policy and compliance (which are stakeholder and client relationships).

Be careful when you cross the streams.