Customer vs. Client

Is there a difference? Many organizations use the two terms interchangeably – essentially anyone who is or might purchase goods or services from them.  At Scythe & Spade, we have both Customers and Clients and they are distinctly different. Hence, we label them and regularly and actively differentiate between them. 


At Scythe & Spade, we provide services not products. Our services revolve around agriculture business and real assets. As such we are fiduciaries, everyone in the Organization, not just the individual point of contact, but the Organization as a whole. Our Clients have placed utmost trust and confidence in us, not only to manage and protect their interests (financial and otherwise) in property and businesses, but preceding this, trust and confidence in sourcing, diligence and underwriting those investments. 

Legally speaking, Fiduciary duties include the duties of:

•            Loyalty

•            Confidentiality

•            Disclosure

•            Obedience

•            Reasonable Care & Diligence

•            Accounting


We consider Customers, on the other hand, stakeholders in our success and the success of our Clients. Ideally, they view our contribution essential in their success as well. Customers can be both internal like our team members or external like vendors, tenants, or freelancers to name a few. 

Truly Client/Customer-centric cultures more capably navigate the silos, politics and turf wars that plague so many organizations, and operate with the added ability to maintain and safely embrace peak performing friction with a common focus and dedication to the Client and Customer.

Let’s us a Farm Management example to compare both. Consider our Client, the Landlord, who leases farmland resources and assets to our Customer, the Tenant.  We have Fiduciary Obligations to the Landlord and Interdependency Obligations (mutually beneficial interests in one another’s success) to the Tenant. The more successful the Tenant, the more everyone benefits.

For us at Scythe & Spade it is important to profile and use these labels consistently and to discuss them often. Certainly, our commitment and dedication to our Client is a legal obligation we take very seriously. However, it is easy to overlook the contribution other parties or stakeholders have in our success or that of our Clients. When we use either Client or Customer it means something definitive to us.

Brett MacNeil