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05 / 03 / 2007

CUSTOMER vs. CLIENT: meaning and examples

Good morning.

Today's Daily Vitamin topic comes from one of our Ziggurat teachers, Cris Rosa who suggested talking about the difference between Customer and Client.

Consider the following definitions from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary:

Definition of Customer: A person or an organization that buys something from a shop/store or business.

Definition of Client: A person who uses the services or advice of a professional person or organization.

As you can see, these words are synonyms, but each one has a slightly different "feeling," in my opinion.

Not all native English speakers would agree with me, but I think it is more common to use Client with services and Customer with products

Lawyers or professional English trainers, for example, have clients, and the bakery on the corner has customers. However, this varies a lot and these words are, for the most part, interchangeable.

Example 1:
Ziggurat's client base has doubled in the last six months.

Example 2:
I won a free ham at the supermarket since I was their one-thousandth customer.

Example 3:
Some say that the most difficult thing about owning a shop is dealing with the customers/clients.

Client is also used in computing to refer to a computer that is hooked up to a computer network. When we connect to a server, we are clients of that server.

Example 4:
Web browsers are clients that connect to web servers and retrieve web pages for display.

Please post any questions about today's Daily Vitamin in the Daily Vitamin Plus! forum section on our website.

Have a nice day!