I worked with a company that refused to refer to their customers as anything other than clients – a rarity for a high-tech manufacturer. Business suits were required for every customer encounter. Sport coats and less formal business wear were disallowed. They dominated their market.
A couple years go by and they changed. New leadership refused to call their customers clients – they were customers. Less formal dress was allowed. They slowly fell behind the market and took position as a laggard.
I don't want to fully suggest changing Dress code and thinking of customers as customers were their ultimate demise – limits in architecture and wrong decisions in technology trends had a huge impact on their regression. But clearly the attitude of the company and its loyalty to its customers changed. Many felt it.
They took focus off of their clients and instead tried to sell the products they had to customers. They took something different – attitude, professionalism, and dedication to clients – and became one of the pack. As client needs changed, they defended their ground and in some cases blamed their customers for not getting it.
No. Dress code and calling those who purchase from you clients doesn't make or break your business. These are just reflections of what's going on inside.
Food for thought.