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customer v. client

English translation: buying goods v. receiving services

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GLOSSARY ENTRY (DERIVED FROM QUESTION BELOW)
English term or phrase:customer v. client
English translation:buying goods v. receiving services
Entered by: Fuad Yahya
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12:53 Mar 25, 2003
English to English translations [Non-PRO]
Bus/Financial / customer
English term or phrase: customer v. client
Hi, everyone !

I was just wondering what is the exact difference between these two words. Client and Customer.
1. Isn't client more obsolete?
2. Who is likely to use the word client instead of customer? Stylistic preferences?
3. Does it depend on freelance work. Eg, I am a freelance (private) specialist, do I have clients rather than customers?
Rostislau Golod
Local time: 04:58
The American View
Explanation:
from the American Heritage Dictionary:

A coustomer is:

1. One that buys goods or services.

2. Informal. An individual with whom one must deal: a tough customer.


A client is:

1. The party for which professional services are rendered, as by an attorney.

2. A customer or patron: clients of the hotel.

3. A person using the services of a social services agency.

4. One that depends on the protection of another, such as "a client state."

5. In Computer Science: A computer or program that can download files for manipulation, run applications, or request application-based services from a file server.


As you can see, there is a good deal of overalp, but in general, "customer" tends to hint at the buying role, especially, but not exculisively, of goods, while "client" tends to emphasize a relationship of receiving, with the buying aspect somewhat attenuated in emphasis. It is not exclusively for services, but it tends to be used more in that way.

Lawyers are least likely to use "customers."

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Note added at 2003-03-25 13:11:02 (GMT)
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I agree with Marian\'s comment below. brothels, like banks, use both terms as well.

Places where neither term is encouraged include hospitals (the term \"patients\" is preferred, although in internal documents, \"customers\" can be found) and churches (where \"worshippers\" and \"members\" are preferred).

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Note added at 2003-03-25 16:25:20 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Typo correction: \"customer.\"

Thanks to SergeyL for pointing it out.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-03-26 00:32:14 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

In my response to Mary Bauer\'s comment below, I incorrectly wrote \"client\" in the second arm of the contrast, where I should have written \"customer.\" Here is the correct statement:

\"When we de-emphasize the buying element, we tend to use \"client,\" even if we are selling goods. When we emphasize the buying element, we tend to use \"customer,\" even if we are selling services. It is a matter of relative emphasis rather than strict semantics.\"
Selected response from:

Fuad Yahya
Grading comment
Graded automatically based on peer agreement. KudoZ.
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer

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Summary of answers provided
5 +12The American ViewFuad Yahya
4 +3client is definitely not obsoleteNancy Arrowsmith
5 +1Client is more commonly used...Gilbert Ashley
5Many business people think "client" sounds more "sexy"...John Bowden
5customer v client
jerrie
4See phraseAntonio Camangi
4it seems that...
Maciej Andrzejczak
4client is more like to be consumer of services
Сергей Лузан


  

Answers


8 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +12
The American View


Explanation:
from the American Heritage Dictionary:

A coustomer is:

1. One that buys goods or services.

2. Informal. An individual with whom one must deal: a tough customer.


A client is:

1. The party for which professional services are rendered, as by an attorney.

2. A customer or patron: clients of the hotel.

3. A person using the services of a social services agency.

4. One that depends on the protection of another, such as "a client state."

5. In Computer Science: A computer or program that can download files for manipulation, run applications, or request application-based services from a file server.


As you can see, there is a good deal of overalp, but in general, "customer" tends to hint at the buying role, especially, but not exculisively, of goods, while "client" tends to emphasize a relationship of receiving, with the buying aspect somewhat attenuated in emphasis. It is not exclusively for services, but it tends to be used more in that way.

Lawyers are least likely to use "customers."

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-03-25 13:11:02 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

I agree with Marian\'s comment below. brothels, like banks, use both terms as well.

Places where neither term is encouraged include hospitals (the term \"patients\" is preferred, although in internal documents, \"customers\" can be found) and churches (where \"worshippers\" and \"members\" are preferred).

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-03-25 16:25:20 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

Typo correction: \"customer.\"

Thanks to SergeyL for pointing it out.

--------------------------------------------------
Note added at 2003-03-26 00:32:14 (GMT)
--------------------------------------------------

In my response to Mary Bauer\'s comment below, I incorrectly wrote \"client\" in the second arm of the contrast, where I should have written \"customer.\" Here is the correct statement:

\"When we de-emphasize the buying element, we tend to use \"client,\" even if we are selling goods. When we emphasize the buying element, we tend to use \"customer,\" even if we are selling services. It is a matter of relative emphasis rather than strict semantics.\"

Fuad Yahya
Native speaker of: Native in ArabicArabic, Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 893
Grading comment
Graded automatically based on peer agreement. KudoZ.

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Marian Greenfield: to some extent... banks can have either clients (JP Morgan) or customers (most commercial banks) - in many cases it's a matter of personal (or institutional) preference.
3 mins
  -> I agree. In fact, the same mrchant or service provider can use both terms, depending on the editorial need of the moment, whatever is being emphasized. It is situational.

agree  Mary Bauer: i would say that customer is when buying and client for services like doctor and attorney, but client would be used for long-term buying relationships as well.
20 mins
  -> When we de-emphasize the buying element, we tend to use "client," even if we are selling goods. When we emphasize the buying element, we tend to use "customer," even if we are selling services. It is a matter of relative emphasis.

agree  Marion Burns
59 mins

agree  xxxntouzet
1 hr

agree  xxxIno66
2 hrs

agree  Сергей Лузан: Typo - not cOustomer, but customer.
3 hrs
  -> Thanks for the correction.

agree  Maria Knorr
4 hrs

agree  Guy
7 hrs

agree  Peter Coles: The use of client tends to imply a greater degree of personal attention than that afforded to customers hence the use of client for professional or b2b service and customer for retail and mass marketing situations.
9 hrs

agree  Rusinterp
11 hrs

agree  Kardi Kho: It is a matter of relative emphasis rather than strict semantics. - Absolutely agree.
11 hrs
  -> Thank you K. Your comment prompted me to re-read my response to Mary Bauer's comment and to correct my inadvertent error.

agree  Empty Whiskey Glass
1 day8 hrs
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11 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
it seems that...


Explanation:
customer = end-user
client = company, especially in b2b

Maciej Andrzejczak
Poland
Local time: 03:58
Native speaker of: Native in PolishPolish

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  uFO
46 mins

disagree  Peter Coles: counter example: dentists have clients
9 hrs
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53 mins   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5 peer agreement (net): +3
client is definitely not obsolete


Explanation:
It is the word of choice in business New Speak. Anybody can talk of having a customer, but a client implies the professional relationship talked about in the other answers. So more and more people are upgrading customers to clients, without any thought for proper usage. So your question is quite to the point - there is a lot of confusion out there.

Nancy Arrowsmith
Local time: 19:58
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 60

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Marion Burns: Just as some companies call all employees "managers". The word loses meaning.
16 mins

agree  xxxIno66
1 hr

agree  Rusinterp
10 hrs
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
customer v client


Explanation:
Please see following glossary entries:

http://www.proz.com/?sp=h&id=382894&keyword=customer

http://www.proz.com/?sp=h&id=363933&keyword=customer

http://www.proz.com/?sp=h&id=91268&keyword=customer

alternatively click onto glossaries/english>english/type client or customer

hth

jerrie
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:58
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 773
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1 hr   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5 peer agreement (net): +1
Client is more commonly used...


Explanation:
for someone who purchases services and customer is most commonly used for someone who purchases goods. However, especially in its' original meaning, customer indicates a repeat purchaser. They used to say 'We appreciate your custom', where today they would say 'We appreciate your business'. Client is nearly always used by professionals, lawyers, accountants,etc.

Gilbert Ashley
PRO pts in pair: 16

Peer comments on this answer (and responses from the answerer)
agree  Сергей Лузан
2 hrs
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3 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
client is more like to be consumer of services


Explanation:
customer - of goods. But that's nat absolute, and client isn't obsolete. If you're a freelance (private) specialist, then you tend to have clients rather than customers, IMHO.
Good luck, Rostislau Golod!

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Note added at 2003-03-25 16:32:52 (GMT)
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Of course, if you aren\'t a handicraftsman

Сергей Лузан
Russian Federation
Local time: 04:58
Native speaker of: Native in RussianRussian
PRO pts in pair: 49
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4 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 5/5
Many business people think "client" sounds more "sexy"...


Explanation:
I agree with the other answers about the actual difference between customer and client (good vs. services etc). However, for some reason "client" is often felt to be more "business-like", and is frequently used as a piece of jargon in situations where it wouldn't have been a few years ago - I remember a meeting a couple of years ago at my university (in the UK)when the course leader, instead of saying "we don't know yet where we will be teaching the students" came out with the sentence: "At present it is unclear where we will be interfacing with our clients"! On the other hand, students are frequently described as "customers" of the university ("responding to our customers' needs..."), which disproves the good/services differentiation.

John Bowden
Local time: 02:58
Native speaker of: Native in EnglishEnglish
PRO pts in pair: 140
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5 hrs   confidence: Answerer confidence 4/5Answerer confidence 4/5
See phrase


Explanation:
Client is typical in legal environment.

Antonio Camangi
Local time: 03:58
Native speaker of: Native in ItalianItalian
PRO pts in pair: 3
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Changes made by editors
Dec 24, 2005 - Changes made by Fuad Yahya:
FieldOther » Bus/Financial


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