What’s The Difference Between a Customer and a Guest?

...there IS a difference?

How do you treat the people that enter your place of business?  What do you hope to gain from them?  Are you more interested in providing value or to just fatten your wallet?

Difference Between a Customer and a Guest

Do you treat them as a $$$ sign or just a one-shot deal?  Do you treat them as a burden because you will need to deal with their questions?

Or do you treat them as a valued resource that will help you build your business?  Do you treat them as kindly as you would you treat your grandma?

Definition of a Customer*

  • One that purchases a commodity or service
  • An individual usually having some specified distinctive trait

Example: A real tough customer

Definition of a Guest*

  • A person entertained in one’s house
  • A person to whom hospitality is extended
  • A person who pays for the services of an establishment (as a hotel or restaurant)

You should clearly see the difference.

Our place of business should be treated as if it was our house. Treat all the people that enter it as if they are family and you appreciate the effort taken to come here.

Ensure you anticipate your customer's needs, tend to their wants and provide for their desires. Click To Tweet

When you have family coming to your house for a holiday meal, do you make a separate trip to the bakery to get that special cake that Mom likes or raise the heat because grandma is always cold?  Do you help your family to and from the car with their packages?  Do you focus first on what their needs are before your own?

So, do you have customers or guests?

*Adapted from the author’s book “Earn More Tips On Your Very Next Shift…Even if You’re a Bad Waiter

*By permission. From Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate® Dictionary, 11th Edition ©2013 by Merriam-Webster, Inc. (www.Merriam-Webster.com).


Copyright © 2017 Steve DiGioia

► If you agree or disagree and have something to say about this post – I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below…
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6 thoughts on “What’s The Difference Between a Customer and a Guest?

  1. Hey Steve,
    A good mind racking question! A customer and a guest are overlapped in description. Both are visitors and both can buy from you.

    However, being a guest brings about more connection and association.

    Therefore, its better to go for the guest as he/she can return again if well entertained or given the needed ‘hospitality’.

    Having said, we must always court guest attention for the purpose of sustainable customer relationship.

    A customer is a general term while a guest ( in this context) means a customer who is loyal and can buy again and again after receiving good hospitality!
    I left the above comment in kingged.com as well

    • The mindset of taking care of “guests” is very different than that of just a customer. As you rightly mentioned we hope for repeat business from guests but there must be additional effort given to the overall “feeling” present when dealing with guests.

      Treat them like family, tailor your service to their wants and anticipate their needs. When we do this, everyone can go from a customer to a guest.

      Thanks Sunday William for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment,welcome to the team. Also, I’m just starting with Kingged.com and look forward to greater engagement there.

  2. A guest is treaded as family in the true sense of the word, how ever when you attend seminars on guest satisfaction surveys, there is a conflict. For across the hall in the same seminar their is a speaker telling its audience that they need to maximize revenue, and the guest survey disappears. Revenue management is about making money, and sorry to say at the expense of the customer. Great service in Las Vegas is only given as long as it benefits the hotel providing the service. (My humble opinion) Take it with a grain of salt for those of you who disagree. A true guest will always return to your establishment, for they are made to feel like family, a reunion among friends.

    • Hi Alan,

      Since we have been around awhile, we have seen the somewhat swift change from hotels that strive to provide value and service to the “hotel management companies” that purchase a property as an investment only to turn it 3-4 years later.

      No effort to provide service, only shareholder profits. Sounds similar to the union properties we come from too.

      Those that are treated as a guest/family will always come back – to the business that treat them right. To those that do not, they will fade into oblivion…or until the next management firm purchases them.

      Thanks my friend.

  3. I see the people who visit my small store as Guests — unless they clearly have bad intents when they are in-store (such as shoplifting, etc.). I know how I like to be treated when I enter a place of business, a hotel, etc. so I treat my visitors the same.

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