I ran across this highly referenced web page (via del.icio.us) on consulting. Although the writeup looks to be more oriented towards IT consulting as opposed to management consulting, one thing kind of jumped out at me. The web page indicates:
- Have "customers", not "clients"
- This is a minor semantic point, but one I've stuck with for many years. A "client" implies that the consultant is superior, while "customer" suggests that the consultant is beholden.
Mostly out of habit, I think I use the term "client", especially in the presence of my, umm, err, client/customer. It has everything to do with respect for my client. It in no way has to do with being superior to other people.
Perhaps the author and I are both wrong. The dictionary says that the two words are the same, and I imagine or hope that there is formality in the use of the term "client" when perhaps none is conveyed.