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Customer versus Client—What's the Difference?

Tom Ninness
Feb 06, 2010

If you want to increase your customer to client conversion ratio, then stop selling and start consulting.

Customer versus Client—What’s the Difference?

I’m currently listening to E-Myth Mastery by Michael Gerber while driving to and from work. Michael shares the differences between a customer and a client. Basically, a customer is a one-time transaction where a client is someone that you do repeat business with. A customer is someone who purchases your services from you while a client is someone that seeks and uses your professional advice. In selling services to a customer, the focus is limited to pitching the product/service and the lowest price which hurts your profit margin. The difference is the relationship you have with the person. If you cater your business to customers, you have to be continually searching for them. Clients, on the other hand don’t need to be replaced unless you drop the ball on your services and don’t typically argue about price. When a sales professional starts focusing on a customer’s needs, then they can turn prospective customers into clients, improve their profit margin and gain repeat business.

What do Customers Want?

We’ve all been customers and clients to different businesses. If I go to a 7-11 in the middle of nowhere, I’m a customer. Chances are I won’t be passing through that part of the country ever again. We’ve also been customers that could have been turned into a client but because of poor customer service, I would never do business with that company again.
Here is a short list of what the customer is looking for:
  1. A level of service that exceeds their expectation. Creating customer service that creates a “WOW” experience instead of “WHOA”, I’ll never do business with that company/person again is critical if you want to elevate the customer to client status.
  2. To be treated special—from this first greeting to every communication thereafter.
  3. The customer wants their concerns addressed with sensitivity and efficiently. When a concern comes up, giving the answer, “I’ll get back to you” needs to be replaced with “I’ll get on it right away”.
  4. Clear communication with no surprises. Your client needs to be kept in the loop, even when bumps happened along the way.
  5. Individualized solutions. In the mortgage and real estate industry, every transaction is different: different buyer/seller situations, different houses and different circumstances. You can rely on past experience, but remember, each client has a different personality so even if you have a similar problem that has come up in the past, your client’s personality might change how you handle the problem.
  6. Having their problems solved completely. Don’t procrastinate or ignore problems as they will get worse, the longer you put them off.
  7. Having their questions answered and information provided without strings attached. In today’s world, if you hold back on information, the customer can go somewhere else to get the information from someone else. The freer you are in providing information, the more the client will feel obligated to doing business with you. Sometimes customers will use your information to better themselves and not do business with you anyway. In that case they would never become a client, they are simply a customer and would never elevate to a client status anyway.

Improving Your Customer/Client Conversion

If you want to increase your customer to client conversion ratio, then stop selling and start consulting. A consultant understands the value on customer service and the needs of the client. They focus on giving value and advice. They commit themselves to the highest level of knowledge for their industry. They take responsibility of their client’s well being. They develop empathy for their client and never compromises their integrity in business and their personal lives.
Make your customer service a core value of your business. Get to know your customers needs and empower everyone on your team to do the same. As a mortgage professional, my team includes the receptionist, my lock person, my transaction coordinator, my processor, my underwriter, my title company provider, my underwriter, my closer, my insurance agent, etc. Other than the underwriter, chances are the rest of the team will be communicating with the customer at some point. Each person on my team needs to have the same core value for the customer as I do. If one person on my team exhibits a lack of compassion or concern for the customer, I could lose the opportunity of turning the customer into a life-long client.
Set and maintain customer service standards for your team. If you don’t have standards, then a level of service is never established. Each person involved in a transactions needs proper instruction on what is expected from them. Creating a world class customer service platform will greatly increase your customer to client conversion ratio to a raving fan referring machine for your business.
Lastly, stay in touch with your clients. Create a system that alerts you when it’s their birthday, anniversary, and a system that provides them information that would be important to them or those that are part of their circle of friends, family and business associates. Add regularly scheduled phone calls and create opportunities to see your clients in person a couple of times a year. Create educational seminars that bring value to your client’s life and business. Encourage your client’s to bring their friends and associates along to up your chances for business.
With every customer opportunity, my goal is to create a client for life. With every mortgage transaction, my goal is to create three more opportunities from the one. This will not happen if I have not done a superior job for my client. Your assignment this week is to examine every part of your customer’s experience. Make a list of the areas that need improvement and create an action plan that will create a world class experience for your customer. If you are committed to superior service for your client, your chances of customer/client conversion will go through the stratosphere.
Have an incredible week!
Feb 06, 2010
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