The devil is in the details.

The details matter.  Nuances make a difference.  Ask any winemaker in the middle of harvest if another day on the vine can really have that much impact on the taste of their wine. (I advise you to be out of striking distance if you ask that question now, when they are wrestling with that very issue.)

Millions of tiny details are the reason one bottle of wine scores 92 points and another scores 89.  If the world was simpler, our choices would be  black or white, on or off, true or false, and there would be no need to have 51 pages on Wikipedia devoted to shades of red.  Sometimes the difference between two choices  is hard to identify and the impact is subtle, but other times it is obvious.  Even an untrained eye can tell the difference between a glass of  wine that is  “Candy Apple Red” and one that is “Cerise”.

I have been struggling with one particular detail since I first began working with the team at Brotemarkle Davis. It’s their almost maniacal insistence on referring to the people we serve as “customers” instead of “clients”.  

My career began in 1982 as a staff accountant with Deloitte.  Lesson one, day one in new staff training was about removing all references to the word “customer” from my vocabulary.  The only time you were allowed to use the word “customer” was in reference to someone who was listed on a client’s Accounts Receivable Aging report. Those people who owed debts to our clients were “customers”.  We had “clients”.

And now this firm is taking the reverse approach. 

BDCo  says the term “client” reflects a traditional CPA firm view that people and organizations represent repeat business that will automatically return year after year, regardless of the level of service they receive. Customers, on the other hand, evaluate our services every time they visit.  We have to work hard to earn the right to work with customers year after year. We want to treat people as customers rather than clients.

Because I am slow to change,  I shall keep using the wrong terminology and shall keep getting back corrected e-mails, blog posts, invites, and FaceBook entries, while everyone here continues to treat people like customers.

And the devil shall keep popping up in my copy in his favorite scarlet cape.

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