Marketing guru Jay Abraham was the first to point out to me the difference between customers and clients. At first I thought he was splitting hairs - until I saw how much of a difference it made when I shifted how I talked about those who bought my services.
How do you describe the people who buy your product or service? Or do you consider them merely sources of income and the name doesn't matter a bit?
The terms customer and client are often used interchangeably, but let's turn to the dictionary to find out the difference.
Here are the primary meanings:
Customer: one who purchases a commodity or service.
Client: one who is under the protection of another.
- A customer is someone who buys and consumes your product or service.
- A client implies a relationship that has more to it than simply an exchange of money. It's someone who comes to trust you and comes back to you frequently because they know they're taken care of.
Which would you rather have?
And what does it take to turn customers into clients?
- Treat them as you would treat a budding relationship with a friend.
- Give excellent customer service. That should go without saying, but good customer service isn't always a given these days.
- Answer the questions they don't know to ask. After all, you're the expert who knows what they don't realize they need to know. Help them learn.
- Give more than they expect. This could mean sharing expertise that's outside of what they are paying you for.
- Be interested in them beyond the business they do with you (but only if they're open to that). I've never come across anyone who didn't like to talk about their own life. Ask questions, but only if you're genuinely interested, otherwise it'll sound fake.
- Contact them now and then to find out how they're doing. Again, your interest must be genuine.
- Keep an eye out for articles or tidbits of information that might interest them and pass them on. It lets them know you're thinking of them.
Before you know it, you become established in their minds as a person they feel they can turn to for advice and recommendations. You become a trusted advisor.
That's when you know they're with you for the long haul.
And what could be better than that?
Copyright 2011 Maggie Dennison