“Know your customer.” This mantra is at the heart of every customer-centric business strategy. It’s also the key to creating a great customer experience and ensuring long-term customer satisfaction.
But what, exactly, do you need to know about each type of customer?
Look beyond buyer personas
Buyer personas are commonly used to describe the types of people who are likely to buy from you. The problem is, personas are primarily a selling tool—so they aren’t designed to be useful after the initial sale. They don’t offer the right insights to help improve the customer experience, build loyalty, or provide the right support at the right time.
For that, you need to understand customers on a different level—their relationship to your company or product, their buying behaviors and motivations, and what makes them happy. While every customer is different, they often share certain characteristics that can help us group them into broad categories that we call types of customers.
Here are six of the most common types of customers, along with recommendations for meeting their unique needs.
6 common types of customers
1. New customers
New customers are those who have just joined your customer base for the first time. When a new customer makes their first purchase, they tend to be more engaged and more receptive to your message than at any other time in the customer relationship. So be sure to make the most of every touch point.
First-time buyers have some unique needs, but they also present unique opportunities. This “honeymoon period” is your best chance to reinforce the purchase decision, build loyalty, and set the stage for repeat business.
How to embrace new customers:
- Welcome them properly. A well-crafted welcome email (or email series) can help new customers feel appreciated, provide important product information, and ensure they know where to go for help.
- Set them up for success. New customers often need help learning how to use your product or service. Self-serve onboarding resources like walk-throughs, blog posts, demos, and tutorials can help new customers understand your product better and increase stickiness.
- Make help available. There will inevitably be questions your onboarding doesn’t address, so customer service is a must. Make sure your contact information is prominently displayed in all new customer support materials.
- Deepen the relationship. While this probably isn’t the right time for an upsell, new customers can be great candidates for future testimonials, product reviews, and case studies. Build feedback requests into your new customer communications to help identify happy customers who might be willing to sing your praises soon.
2. Potential customers
Potential customers—also known as “lookers” or “prospects” —aren’t actually customers yet. They’re gathering information and exploring their options before making a buying decision. Since they haven’t made a purchase, they’re still somewhere toward the middle of your sales funnel.
Lookers may not be ready to buy yet, but they’re typically looking for a specific product that meets a specific need. That interest level is what separates potential customers from casual website visitors.
The following are some things you can do to move potential customers deeper into the sales funnel and assist with their decision-making.
How to convert potential customers:
- Make a great first impression. You need to create the right experience for your website visitors if you want to turn browsers into buyers. Start with beautiful design and a good user experience (UX), then remove any elements that could be confusing or distracting—like pop-up ads and complex navigation.
- Demonstrate value. Potential customers already have some degree of interest in your product or service, so make it irresistible! Assets like white papers, testimonials, and case studies can show the benefits of your offering without making an overt sales pitch.
- Nurture warm leads. If your potential customer downloads a resource or fills out a contact form, be sure to follow up on that touch point. Adding them to a nurture campaign gives you more opportunities to share information and demonstrate value.
- Offer to help. Make it clear that you’re available to answer any questions a potential customer may have.
3. Impulse customers
Impulse customers make buying decisions in a snap. They are highly emotional buyers who typically don’t spend much time researching their purchase—so they don’t need to be “sold” with a compelling value proposition.
When the mood strikes, the best thing you can do for an impulse customer is get out of their way. Here are some suggestions for appealing to this valuable customer segment.
How to influence impulse customers:
- Keep things simple. Impulse buyers value an easy and enjoyable shopping experience. The fewer steps required to complete a purchase, the less likely they will lose interest. Remove distractions (like pop-ups) on your landing page and expedite the checkout process with streamlined forms and autofill functionality.
- Offer timely upsells and cross-sells. Once you know what an impulse shopper likes, upselling and cross-selling offers can help you capitalize on their urge to buy. Consider adding “related product” recommendations to various touch points, including the checkout screen, order confirmation, shipping notice, and follow-up emails.
- Enable self-service. Impulse buyers don’t always read the fine print, so they’re more likely to need help with returns and exchanges. Anticipate these interactions and provide easy, self-service processes to keep impulse customers happy (and reduce customer support tickets).
4. Discount customers
Discount customers are the polar opposite of impulse buyers. They know what they want and they recognize the value of your product, but they’re willing to expend a lot of time and effort to find the best deal. Bottom line, they refuse to pay full price.
It’s hard to cultivate loyalty among bargain hunters, as they’re likely to drop your product or service once the discounted pricing expires. Discount customers can be tricky to manage, but here are a few tips.
How to satisfy discount customers:
- Explain the deal. Most discount seekers enjoy research, so give them clear and complete information about the terms of your deal. Make sure they understand exactly what they’re getting, in terms of discount pricing and/or increased value.
- Deliver exceptional service. This is not a customer who’s just going to “let it go” if a coupon or promo code doesn’t work properly. Keep your customer support team up to date on the details of every promotion so they can ensure a smooth transaction every time.
- Provide added value. Before your discounted pricing runs out, reach out with a new or extended offer—especially if it’s something they can’t get anywhere else. Going the extra mile might be enough to keep the discount customer satisfied.
5. Angry customers
Whatever your business, angry customers are inevitable. And while they may be difficult to handle, unhappy customers are a valuable source of feedback. When managed properly, their complaints can uncover critical flaws in your product, service, or processes.
It’s important to remember that angry customers are frustrated for a reason—and delivering good customer service can turn angry customers into your biggest fans. Here are some tips.
How to handle angry customers:
- Have a plan. A confident, positive approach can go a long way toward defusing a difficult situation. Make sure your customer support staff is well-trained, so they aren’t caught off guard by angry customers.
- Practice empathy. One of the most effective ways to handle an angry customer is to simply hear them out. Try to see things from their point of view. Wait to offer a solution until you fully understand the issue, or the customer may end up feeling dismissed.
- Take appropriate action. The resolution to a problem should always fit the circumstances—whether that’s a refund, a replacement, or even a letter of apology. For example, a discount on future purchases will only frustrate a customer who never received their order.
6. Loyal customers
Loyal customers are the gold standard for any business. They love your company and your product. They make repeat purchases year after year. And if you’re lucky, they’re also devoted brand advocates who share their positive experience at every opportunity.
That said, customer loyalty should never be taken for granted. Long-term customer retention requires deliberate effort, to ensure your fans don’t lose interest over time.
How to retain loyal customers:
- Highlight their success. Featuring your best customers in a spotlight article or case study can help to increase their exposure, while providing you with a valuable sales asset. You may also consider offering an incentive for referrals and testimonials.
- Invest in loyalty programs. Offering a loyalty discount or bonus program can help to strengthen a long-term relationship. Depending on how they’re structured, loyalty programs can also be a valuable source of behavioral and purchase data.
- Learn from your best customers. Ask for feedback from long-term customers. Find out about their experience; ask how they use your products. Then apply your learnings to improve the customer experience for others or shape future product enhancements.
Delight every type of customer with a customer-centric solution
Today’s customers want relationships, not transactions. At the end of the day, knowing each customer at an individual level—and giving them what they need—means having the right data. From basic contact information and purchase data to deeper insights like customer behaviors, attitudes, and preferences, the right CRM puts customer data at your fingertips so you can deliver an exceptional experience, every time.
Insightly CRM was designed to help teams build lasting customer relationships through a simple, scalable platform. Insightly’s unified solution aligns cross-functional teams like sales, marketing, and customer service on a single, shared data platform with a single customer view. The result? Unprecedented transparency, better decision-making, and a seamless end-to-end customer experience – for all types of customers.