Types of Customers

11 Types of Customers and How to Handle Them

Delivering great customer service isn’t an exact science but it helps to understand you different types of customers. Segmenting your customers into types helps you adjust your approach to handling the different kinds of customer enquiries you may get and helps you make your customers happier. 

catherine heath

Last updated: May 26, 2022

9 mins read

No two customers are alike. Customers each have unique situations, individual wants and needs, and different requirements of your business. They are at different stages when it comes to interacting with your brand, requiring your business to respond in personalized ways.

Companies need to tailor their approach to deal with the various kinds of customers. Someone who is just browsing your website has very different needs to someone who is a long-term advocate that has run into a problem with your product or service. Some customers might need a little persuading to make a purchase while others are already staunch supporters of your brand.

Thinking carefully about how best to handle customers results in more sales, higher customer satisfaction and more loyal customers. 

To help us deal with customers more effectively, it’s useful to divide customers up into types in order to make things easier.  Here are 11 types of customers you may encounter in your own business.

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Types of Customers: Before the sale

You’ll encounter these potential customers before they actually buy anything.

1. Undecided customers

Undecided customers know about your products or services but they aren’t quite ready to buy yet. They may need more information before coming to a decision and need more convincing before they are willing to try your product.

This type of customer needs a little persuasion before they will decide to buy. 

They may be hesitant to commit because they have seen a better offer elsewhere. They’re waiting for your business to demonstrate why you would outperform the competition and why your offering is superior.

How to deal with them: 

  • Keep reminding your customer of the value that your product or service brings and how your company is different. Persuade them with case studies and webinars that showcase the success of your product.
  • You can nudge the customer into buying with little incentives like a product discount or free shipping. Make your offer time-sensitive so the customer feels compelled to finalize their decision.

2. Curious customers

This type of customer does in-depth research to compare you to your competitors and ensure they get the best deal possible. Your brand is one of a list of many that the research customer is considering in their quest for the perfect product.

Research customers want as much information as they possibly can and will happily spend as much time as necessary making comparisons. They will put your product under the microscope and may contact your support team with extensive questions about its capabilities.

Research customers have the potential to become highly valuable customers – if you can persuade them that your product is the right fit for them. 

How to deal with them: 

  • Have in-depth answers ready to satisfy your research customers. Have agents dedicated to answering customer questions who have detailed product knowledge
  • Make case studies, whitepapers and testimonials available to add depth to their research. Leave no doubt in the customer’s mind that you have the superior product.

3. Impulse customers

Impulsive customers have no prior intention to purchase your products or services and instead buy them spontaneously. These types of customers are an opportunity for your business to generate more sales if you can offer them a powerful incentive to buy.

Impulsive customers may be inspired to buy through beautiful product photos, engaging case studies, or attractive offers. 

According to research, 49% of shoppers purchased a product they did not initially intend to buy after receiving a personalized recommendation from a brand. By sending personalized messages, you can prompt a customer to make a purchase on impulse and increase revenue for your company.

How to deal with them: 

  • Make sure the customer experience is as smooth as possible and remove any hurdles that might get in the way of the customer’s intention to buy.
  • Send them time-sensitive offers that build a sense of urgency and stimulate the urge to impulse-buy.

4. Discount customers

Discount customers are looking for a great offer to justify them opening their wallets. They are unlikely to buy your products at full price and will research around to find the best deal. Your company can only win them over if you offer a substantial discount on the regular price.

When your products are no longer discounted this customer is unlikely to buy from you again. You need to offer them something more, like great customer service, to make them consider turning into a loyal customer.

A discount is a way to get new customers through the door to sample your superior product or service. 

A discount can be a good way for a customer to trial your products, and then you can impress them with outstanding service like fast shipping times and 24/7 customer responses.

How to deal with them: 

  • Lead the customer to appreciate the value they are getting at the discounted price and motivate them to stick around for further offers.
  • Emphasize the extras that the customer will benefit from through doing business with your company to inspire loyalty. Treat the discounted offer as offering a trial of your company and impress them with your service.

5. Ready-to-buy customers

Ready-to-buy customers don’t need any more persuasion to buy your products or services. These customers have a need and they know your company can fulfill their requirements. They don’t need a special promotion or discount as they are already convinced of the value that you have to offer.

Consider this one a win. You’ve done a great job attracting this customer and they’re ready to convert. 

Ready-to-buy customers don’t let anything stand in the way of making a purchase and they’ve been fully persuaded by your marketing efforts. They’ve got their wallets open when they come to your website and they won’t let themselves be distracted.

How to deal with them: 

  • Make sure nothing gets in the way of your customer closing the deal. Make the checkout experience as easy as possible and don’t require them to make an account.
  • Reward customers for their purchases. Send them a coupon for their next purchase to encourage them to buy again and promote loyalty.

Types of Customers: After the sale

6. New customers 

Congratulations, you’ve won yourself a new customer! New customers are inexperienced with your products or services and may need a little help to get started. It’s important to support these customers in order to stop them from suffering from buyer’s remorse and asking for a refund.

Since these people are just starting their customer journey, treat these brand new customers the way you would want to be treated when signing up for a service for the first time. It’s your chance to make a positive first impression and to help your customers realize immediate value from using your products, to ensure they don’t regret putting their trust in you.  You’ll want to convert them into loyal customers.

New customers may not always reach out to you first across a variety of customer service channels. It’s a good idea to proactively communicate with these customers to see how they’re getting on. 

How to deal with them: 

  • Offer a streamlined onboarding process that helps customers learn about your products or service. Make sure they have access to self-service training materials, videos, and webinars to get them off to the right start.
  • Have enough service reps on standby to answer what could be seemingly insignificant customer queries. If customers receive stellar service at the outset, this sets them up to have a more positive impression of your brand.

7. Inactive customers

This type of customer is one who has stopped using your products or services or stopped buying from your company. They used to be active but now you notice they have lapsed and they aren’t giving your business their custom anymore.

Inactive customers are a lost opportunity for your business. 

It’s demoralizing when customers leave you but you can reach out to them again to try and win them back. You may find that they have just forgotten about you but a targeted campaign may be enough for them to consider buying from you again.

Inactive customers may not be so dissatisfied that they refuse to re-engage with your business. Maybe they just got busy but would be open to interacting with your business if you made the first move.

How to deal with them: 

  • Find out why these customers have left you through targeted customer feedback. Perhaps the products are no longer meeting their needs or they had a better offer from a competitor.
  • Initiate customer re-engage programs to recapture the interest of these inactive customers. You could send them an email series, personalized recommendations, special offers and discounts, or anything else to get them excited again.

8. Active customers

Active customers make up a significant proportion of your customer base and they are actively engaged with using your products and services. You can rely on them to provide you with steady repeat business, and what these customers need most is quality service and products.

Active customers are the bread and butter of your business. 

This type of customer rarely has any complaints and they are happy to keep doing business with your company. They’re not as committed as loyal customers but you can depend on them to keep coming back – for the time being.

Active customers want the best deal and they won’t hesitate to let you know if there is an aspect of your offering they are dissatisfied with. You need to work hard to keep these customers interested or you might find them lured away by a competitor.

How to deal with them: 

  • If active customers contact you with the problem then you must do your utmost to fix it so they don’t lose faith in your brand. Apologize profusely and provide them with a discount token as a gesture of goodwill.
  • Regularly appreciate your active customers with exclusive offers or self-service training content. It’s important to make your active customers feel valued so they keep coming back for more.

9. Loyal customers

Loyal customers feel a strong sense of commitment to your brand and have an overall positive impression of your products and services. A loyal customer will continue to buy from you even if a competitor has a better offer. They’ll try new products that you provide. They go out of their way to do business with you and aren’t put off by small issues that arise.

Loyal customers spend more and purchase more frequently than other customers so it’s worth putting in the time with these customers. 

It’s important to make significant efforts to retain these loyal customers because they will be responsible for the majority of your revenue. And the way to do that is with outstanding customer service. 86% of customers say that good customer service turns one-time purchasers into long-term brand champions. `

How to deal with them: 

  • Continue giving them the same great service that drew them to your business in the first place. Thank them for supporting your company through being a great customer and offer them free gifts from time to time.
  • Consider starting a loyalty program to reward loyal customers for their repeat business.

10. Advocate customers

One of the best customer types for businesses are those customers who are willing to advocate on their behalf. This type of customer is a true fan of your business and they want the world to know it. These vocal customers will take to social media to share their experiences, tell family and friends about you and promote your products at every opportunity.

64% of marketers agree that word-of-mouth is the most effective form of marketing. The bottom line is, your advocate customers can help you drum up new business.  

72% of customers will share their good experiences with others. If you provide amazing customer service, your customers are more likely to recommend you and to earn you referrals through their network.

Advocate customers are extremely valuable to your brand. They give you organic word-of-mouth promotion and enhance your company’s reputation. It’s important to make these customers feel appreciated and reward them for their contribution.

How to deal with them: 

  • Thank your advocate customers for their continued support of your brand and ask them for a customer testimonial. Offer rewards for customer referrals such as a discount on your products or a free month’s subscription.
  • Treat these customers like the VIPs that they are and don’t take them for granted. Single them out for special promotions and ensure they continue to be an enthusiastic supporter of your brand.

11. Unhappy customers

This type of customer is an important one for your support team to focus on. If angry customers aren’t appeased by your customer service teams, they can badmouth you on social media and leave very negative reviews about your company posted publicly online.

Many angry customers have a legitimate complaint when your business has failed to deliver the experience they expected. Despite their unpleasant demeanor, most angry customers are simply looking for a resolution to their problem and feel aggression is the only way they are going to get the help they need.

The focus should be on executing damage control. Something has gone wrong, and your company now has a problem to solve.

But all is not lost when it comes to angry customers. 83% of customers say they feel more loyal to a brand that responds to and resolves their complaints

Angry customers are giving your business the opportunity to make it right rather than abandoning your brand without saying a word.

How to deal with them: 

  • Offer a sincere apology straight away and show empathy for the customer’s negative situation. Don’t keep the customer waiting and offer a resolution to their problem, even if that means giving a refund.
  • Don’t take their attitude to heart and remember that it is your business’s responsibility to ensure they are satisfied. Collect feedback from your customer about what went wrong and use it to improve the customer experience for the next person.

Wrapping up

Delivering great customer service isn’t an exact science but it helps to understand you different types of customers. Segmenting your customers into types helps you adjust your approach to handling the different kinds of customer enquiries you may get and helps you make your customers happier.

You never know what types of customers you may encounter on any given day but your job is to deliver a personalized experience that answers your customer’s unique needs. While we can’t read the mind of every single customer that gets in contact, you can anticipate general trends and tailor your service accordingly.

Customer types are a useful aid in helping to understand customers better and offer a better standard of service as a result.

catherine heath

Catherine is a content writer and community builder for creative and ethical companies. She often writes case studies, help documentation and articles about customer support. Her writing has helped businesses to attract curious audiences and transform them into loyal advocates. You can find more of her work at https://awaywithwords.co.

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