6 Types of Customers and How to Delight Them

Best Practices | Customer

“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.

We know for sure that it pays to know your customer. Recent data shared by Drive Research on customer loyalty indicates how it shows up in the bottom line. The data points included:

  • 57% of consumers spend more on brands to which they are loyal
  • Repeat customers have been measured to spend an average of 67% more than new customers

So we’ve established. that knowing your customers pays off. but did you know that there are 6 types of customers? And what exactly, do you need to know about each customer type?

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.

Beyond those personas is the ICP – the ideal customer profile. This is the perfect person to buy from you. This is the person who will see value quickly, renew or buy again, and will refer you on to others. 

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 of customers that we call types of customers.

Here are six of the most common types of customers, along with recommendations for meeting their unique needs and marketing strategies for each.

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. This is when they are the most active customers, 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 creating future social proof like 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. Ensure you are delivering top notch customer service.
  • Ask them to evaluate your process. How did they feel about the buying journey? Where do you as a seller have an opportunity to improve?

2. Potential customers

Customer type - potential customer woman thinking

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. They can’t be called ‘need-based customers’ because the need has yet to be determined. In longer sales cycles, these are often referred to as prospects. 

Several software applications and services available today can help you identify these people as they show ‘intent signals.’ Intent signals include website visits, review site visits, and even competitor site visits. Some examples are 6sense and services like intent data from G2. This is often referred to as ‘the dark funnel’ – people who are actively looking at your offering, but have not yet revealed themselves to you in terms of a form fill, social follow or event registration. New data from CXL suggests that B2B buyers spend 83% of their buying journey in this dark funnel. 

Lookers/prospects  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. Make a valuable offer that educates the prospect and helps them in their journey to finding the right product or service to fit their needs – even if it’s not yours.
  • 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. Use data to create personalized experiences for these leads.
  • Offer to help. Make it clear that your team is a valuable resource that is 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.
  • Be available. If your product is ‘sold’ vs. ‘bought’ – meaning a salesperson is required to close a deal, ensure that these people are always available in a timely manner and that they recognize the urgency and meet the buyer at their pace.
  • 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 with exclusive discounts, including the checkout screen, order confirmation, shipping notice, and follow-up emails.
  • Ensure post-sale serviceEnable 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).
  • Consider optimizing the process for self-service. Today’s buyers want to go as far as they can without having to reach out to a sales person. If there are areas in your sales process that you can automate and remove the need for human interaction, consider adding them. Your impulse buyers will appreciate it.

4. Discount customers

Piggy bank showing the discount type of customerDiscount 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 sales team and your customer support team up to date on the details of every promotion so they can ensure a smooth transaction every time. These customers are wary of a bait-and-switch, meaning they will be concerned if their discount is not applied properly and this can cause distrust.
  • 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. You can, in fact, consider them a gift. 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. Delivering good customer service  and rectifying an issue can turn angry customers into your biggest fans. Here are some tips.

How to handle angry customers:

  • Empower team members. When a bad experience occurs, it can get worse quickly if an unhappy customer gets shuffled to multiple people in a phone or email tree. Consider how you can empower team members at all levels to solve an issue. Perhaps a discount up to X% can be given without further authorization? Or the ability to give a complimentary training session? Let your team resolve issues quickly to diffuse 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

Person with phone giving stars showing loyal advocate type of customer

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. A level above brand advocates is brand champions. These are people who are as knowledgeable about your product/service as your team members are and will proactively sing your praises. 

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. Consider a customer advisory board that meets periodically and can be used as a sounding board for new products/features and can also be a place to collect candid feedback.

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.

Get started with a free trial of Insightly CRM today, watch a demo-on-demand at your convenience, or request a personalized demo to see how it can help your company achieve its business goals.