A friend recently told me a that a sales clerk in a Build-A-Bear Workshop ended her sentence with, “…as do many of our clients.”  I thought surely there was a punch line, but it never came.  It seems companies casually throw the word “client” around to evoke feelings of trust in the consumer regardless of whether it is reciprocated by the business.

A relationship involving a “client” implies agency; i.e., someone (the agent) represents someone else’s interests (the client).  This is a common phenomenon in other sectors of the economy, like real estate or law.  Good Realtors or lawyers represent our interests, essentially protecting and guiding us through transactions we are unfamiliar with but they are not.

This concept of “agency” is rarely mentioned in our industry, though the word “client” is profusely used.  This is disingenuous.  Without agency, results can be erratic.  Lance told me about a small charity dinner he attended which had a video package suitable for a rock concert at Madison Square Garden.  The venue was 1/10th the size.  Every seat had a choice of five video screens to watch, not including the stage forty-five feet away.  We all know this happens.  Enormous amounts of money are dedicated to one department, leaving others to flounder.  While that speaks to exceptional salesmanship, it does not speak to agency.

If anyone refers to you as a client, take a moment to reflect whose interests this person or company represent.  If the answer isn’t, “mine,” then you’re a customer and different rules apply.  Whether building a bear or an event, having someone on your side, representing your interests, makes all the difference.