As a tax preparer, CPA, or accountant, do you have customers or clients? Most would say clients without hesitation. But the distinction is an important one. Strictly defined, a customer is someone who buys goods or services from a store or business.
The word “client” can also mean “customer,” according to the American Heritage Dictionary, but it has a separate definition as someone who receives professional services. In business, the two terms are often applied differently based on the types of relationships built and the type of transactions that occur.
Generally speaking, “customers” are patrons who purchase goods or conduct business with you on a transaction basis. They may buy from you once, infrequently, or on a regular basis but the relationship is not a deep one. Typically, the relationship never gets further than the transaction.
Clients, however, purchase services that are personalized to them. The relationship is deeper. The client depends on the skill and expertise of the business they are getting service from. This distinction is very important for professionals in our field because it speaks to the expectation and level of service we need to provide.
Just something to think about this tax season as you see client after client. Each one relies on your skills and expertise. Each one demands relationship building so that you know more about them, their families, and their specific financial situations. Each one requires personalization when preparing their returns. These are not customers, they are clients. They are taxpayers who come to you in need of a professional who they can come to year after year and trust that their returns are accurately prepared.
Make it a point to be personable and build better relationships with your clients this tax season and they will surely come back to you year after year!