NDIS Participants: Customers or Clients?
Recently, I was talking to some support coordinators who work for a large provider of NDIS services in the psychosocial space. They were mostly young, very bright and obviously very passionate about their work.
Intriguingly – and very puzzlingly – these support coordinators kept referring to NDIS participants as ‘customers.’ I did a bit of a double take: I have heard many different words used over the years – clients, consumers, service users. But I had never heard the users of a disability service referred to as ‘customers.’
So, I thought I would look the word up in the dictionary. Here is what I found:
Customer: a person who buys goods or services from a shop or business.
Client: a person or organization using the services of a professional person or company.
The key difference between being a customer or a client is whether you are using a professional service (client) or whether you are simply buying something (customer). For the young support coordinators that I was talking to, one of the really sad things about their use of the word ‘customer’ is that it meant that the organisation did not consider them to be professionals. The organisation was basically seeing them as interchangeable retail workers selling a service that the disabled person could buy anywhere.
This was not how they should have been thinking about themselves. NDIS support coordinators should think of themselves a providers of a tailored, professional service that was adding real value to their participants’ lives. Certainly, that is what the community expects an NDIS provider to be doing.
Needless to say: here at Calm Consulting, we only have clients. Our work may not be a piece of art – but everything we do is unique and tailored to the individual.
So, if you or someone you know has an NDIS plan that needs professional attention, please get in touch.