Customer Success

The 4 Types of Customers:
How to Recognize And Handle Them

There are four types of customers you can come across in sales and customer service. Learn what these types are and how to approach them.

Do you know what the pros and cons of customer service are? Obviously, a great customer experience translates into higher customer satisfaction and conversion rates. 

However, the closer you connect with your customers, the more personalized your approach should be. It can work to your benefits, but can also backfire if you don’t understand that there are different types of customers.

Why should you consider taking a different approach to each group of consumers?

Because different customers have different personalities, and hence – expectations and needs. The better adjustments to each group you’ll make, the higher customer satisfaction and conversion you’ll get.

But, let’s start with some basics.

Who Is a Customer?

A customer is an individual or a company that purchases goods from another store to either keep it or sell it. Customers are an integral part of any company since they’re the driving force for organizations to manufacture, advertise and sell their goods. Without customers, there is no one to transact business with. 

What Is the Difference Between a Customer and Consumer

Though the words customer and consumer sound similar, the meaning behind the two terms is slightly different. While customers are individuals (or businesses) who buy and pay for other company’s products or services, they don’t necessarily have to become users of those goods.  

A gift, for instance, is usually bought by one person (a customer) and used by the other (a consumer). 

As much as these are the customers who are of primary interest to retailers (as they generate income), the consumers’ role is no lesser – they can share valuable insight about the overall experience with products and provide the necessary feedback for company owners to introduce changes to goods and increase customer satisfaction

The 4 Types of Customers: Drivers, Analysts, Amiables and Expressives

Although behavioral patterns are unique and individual to every person, there are certain similarities in the pattern. 

David Merril and Roger Reid’s formed a model of Social Styles that  groups people according to their behavioral styles (ways in which we behave when interacting with other people). They based their model on two criteria: assertiveness and responsiveness.

There are four types of customers: Amiables, Expressives, Analysts, Drivers

Assertiveness tells us to what degree we impact others (“tell assertive”) or to what extent we’re the influenced party (“ask assertive”). 

Responsiveness, on the other hand, reflects the ways in which people express their feelings when communicating with others. If individuals are “people responsive,” they’re more focused on people they’re working with. If they are more task-oriented – “task-responsive” – this means they’ll be more interested in completing the task rather than communicating with others.  

As a result, four customer types have been identified based on this model:

Let’s get to know them on a deeper level and see how loyal they actually are.

1. The Driver

Motto: Let’s do this right now!

driver personality

The Driver is the most dynamic and active personality of all types of customers.

Drivers are often taking managing job positions, so expect them to be dominant and controlling. They’re the decisive type, and they like to make a decision fast, but they’re not very detail-oriented. 

Drivers are visionaries who see the big picture and all the goals that have to be achieved to get there. They don’t like to analyze too much and prefer to make a decision quickly, even if it’s a bad one. 

The driver’s strengths are that they’re very disciplined, independent, productive and confident. They’re decisive, and they get things done, no matter what. Drivers are willing to take the risk even at the cost of failure as in their eyes inaction is much worse than a one-time mistake. 

Their weaknesses are that they may have a low level of empathy – Drivers tend to be insensitive and harsh because they’re focused on pushing things through instead of analyzing how people feel about them. 

Building relationships with co-workers causes them a lot of trouble as connecting with someone on a personal level means showing emotions – the one thing they’re incapable of doing. They’re too scared to become a subject of ridicule to colleagues, so they take up the leading positions where feelings give way to actions.  

Driver’s other weakness is that they tend to rush decisions without anticipating the consequences. And they hate admitting that they’re wrong! 

How to Recognize Drivers

  • Poor listening skills – rather than listening to what’s been said, they’re the ones who talk and want to be listened to. Interrupting in mid-sentence is the bad habit they can’t break. 
  • Outspoken comments – Drivers are direct and don’t mince words. If they see something is wrong, they won’t have a hard time with telling you this in the company of other people. 
  • Need for control – Drivers hate to waste time. If they see that something isn’t going in the right direction, they become authoritative and take matters into their own hands.

How to Sell to Drivers

  • Keep it short – Drivers are highly goal-oriented, and that means they value their time. And you should too, by getting straight to the point.
  • Show them how you’ll help them to achieve their goals – Don’t talk about your product or service for hours – instead, show them what problems of their business will you solve and how profitable the solution will be for their business. 
  • Be professional – Drivers often occupy managing job positions, they’re professional, and they expect the same from you. Be calm, patient, keep it short and go straight to the point. 
  • Eliminate small talk – Some types of customers love to get into a chit-chat, but Drivers are not one of them. If you reach out to them to make an offer, make an offer. Otherwise, don’t bother them with nonsense. 
  • Don’t push – the more you try to convince Drivers to change their minds, the more aggressive and irritated they’ll become. If you see their decision is final, just back them on this and move to the next point. 

How to Treat Drivers in Customer Service

  • Be confident, but polite – Drivers are self-confident, and so should you. Don’t get overwhelmed by their confidence – use logical arguments to explain the situation, and be polite at the same time.
  • Don’t engage in unnecessary discussion – if you feel that the conversation isn’t going in the right direction, get it back on track. When you’ll get into a scuffle with the Driver, you’ll end up nowhere – they won’t let it go. Drop the fight and aim for resolving the issue.
  • Don’t try to prove they’re wrong – they’re confident, so trying to prove they’re mistaken (even if they’re really are) will only put things on fire. Stick to the point and focus on solutions.
  • Step out of your competence if needed – you can’t always please your customers by giving them what they want. But you can always try – don’t be afraid to speak to your manager or other departments in search of a solution. Even if you fail, inform the Driver that you tried – they’ll appreciate your effort and honesty.

2. The Analyst

Motto: I will do it in the right way!

analyst personality

This type of customer is highly focused on details. Analysts are often serious and low-energy individuals. They think quality over quantity – they have very high standards, both professionally and personally.

Analysts tend to take their time with decisions, and they don’t like to be rushed. They’re often introverts that can be easily pushed outside of the group.

Analysts don’t tend to get along with Drivers, because they often represent two extremes of personalities – one drives things forward without hesitation, while the other one tends to analyze and plan, making careful decisions.

Analysts’ strength lies in attention to detail. They literally see every small thing that other types of customers miss, even if it’s not relevant. They also tend to be perfectionists – they set up a high level of standards, and they want stuff to be PERFECT!

Their biggest weakness is that they tend to overanalyze, which may hold them back from making a decision (but once they take a course, they’re unlikely to change it). They don’t like to be rushed, and can be moody, critical, and have a negative attitude.

How to Recognize Analysts

  • Poor listening skills – in a conversation, they can often seem inattentive and unresponsive. It’s good to check on them once in a while to see whether they’re still with you. To do so, just follow them up with a simple question: Do you agree?, Is this what you meant by [the issue]?
  • A lot of enquiries – Analysts have a tendency to ask questions. A lot of questions. At some point during the conversation, you can get the impression of being in the middle of an interrogation process. But don’t be discouraged. The way to an Analyst’s heart is through responding to ALL of their inquiries. 

How to Sell to Analysts

  • Speak with data – Analysts don’t like beautiful words and unfulfilled, marketing promises. Show them the data on how your product or service helped one of your customers to convince them to buy.
  • Expect long sales process – Analysts are slow decision-makers. Give them some time to make up their mind, and prepare for advanced questions (probably the ones you’ve never heard before).
  • Avoid putting too much pressure – since they tend to be indecisive, it’s important to give them enough time to process information. Instead of rushing them, make sure that all their questions are covered.
  • Help them to get off the details – since Analysts love to analyze, they can focus on irrelevant details – if they do, help them gently to get back on track.
  • Show both sides – for Analysts to make the right decision means to know both sides of the story. Even if you consider some information irrelevant, let the customers make the final decision. Analysts value details and honesty. 

How to Treat Analysts in Customer Service

  • Don’t get too personal – this type of personality tends to keep their distance, so try not to force a personal connection. It could be a good idea to engage Analysts with non-human customer support (pssst, you could cover that part with Tidio Chatbots).
  • Have a LOT of patience – Analysts analyze a lot, and that means that taking care of their issues may take longer than usual.
  • Prepare for detailed questions – it’s very likely that an Analyst will skip most common questions and proceed to advanced details. And sometimes even experienced agents won’t know the answers. In that case, make sure to promise an answer, look for it, and contact the Analyst with a follow-up.
  • Have advanced knowledge – as mentioned before, Analysts often look for in-depth knowledge. Make sure you either have it, or you know where to look for it (e.g. a knowledge base or more experienced work colleague).
  • Communicate every step of the way – since Analysts are highly inquisitive people, the moments of silence (e.g. caused by the need to find documents or information) shouldn’t be left without an explanation. Always remember to communicate your intentions and inform Analysts that you’ll be back soon.

3. The Amiable

Motto: Let’s do it together. Teamwork!

amiable personality

The Amiable type of customer is someone who is sociable and great at forming relationships with other people. Amiables are calm, friendly, and outgoing.

They like to establish a personal connection before making a business decision. Since they’re highly empathic, they’re also great listeners. Amiables like to ask personal questions to get to know you better.

The strength of Amiables is that they’re easy and outgoing – they’re good with people, and they’re easy to get along with. They’re highly empathic, which makes them great team players. They avoid conflicts, which makes is both their biggest strength and weakness at the same time (they may be unassertive and hold back).

How to Recognize Amiables 

  • Informal language – more than the language register Amiables care about the conversation going smoothly. Don’t be surprised when they resort to using casual phrases.  
  • Absent-minded – once they catch a flying though, Amiables switch on and off during the conversation. No wonder that talking to them can seem sometimes one-sided. 
  • Needs explanations – Amiables can have a hard time to gather their thoughts and understand the message that is being communicated. They’re rather slower thinkers. 

How to Sell to Amiables

  • Build a personal connection – Amiables love to form relationships with other people, so approach them with a friendly and warm attitude. They’re looking for trustworthy partners, so make sure they feel safe and comfortable with your store.
  • Act as a personal advisor – this type of customer values having someone to help them with a decision process step-by-step. Act as a friendly-neighborhood salesman and guide them through the decision-making process.
  • Give them a personal assurance – Amiables are not risk-taking individuals, so ensuring them that they can get a refund when not satisfied (or that they can cancel without any cost) can be a great way to push them towards conversion.
  • Show interest in their needs – ask many questions – it’s a clear sign of your concern and care, and that’s what Amiables value. 
  • Be the man of your word – one thing that Amiables hate is when someone doesn’t keep their promise. If you tell them that you’ll get back to them within a few days, you better hang on to it. 
  • Tell them about the benefits – the one thing that Amiables want to hear are the merits and profits they will get from using the product. When talking about it, be sure to underline the numerous benefits they’ll receive in no time. 

How to Treat Amiables in Customer service

  • Be warm and friendly – Amiables love to form partnerships with people they trust, so give them a lot of patience, warmth, and friendliness. First, create a friendly atmosphere and earn their trust. Later, it’s just a matter of time when they open up to you and your ideas.
  • Ask many questions – asking them detailed questions regarding their issues (even if these questions detour from the subject’s matter a little) shows that you care about providing the best solution possible.
  • Small talk is allowed – since Amiables are very sociable and love to talk, you can do some chit-chat here. It’ll help these customers to feel more comfortable, just remember not to overdo it – it’s still business!
  • Reassure, reassure, reassure – the problem with Amiables is that they are incapable of making an individual decision and they need to hear a second opinion to make up their mind. When you see they hesitate, simply address their concerns and show the best way.

4. The Expressive

Motto: I have a gut feeling about this one, let’s do it! 

expressive personality

The Expressives are the emotional type of customer. They are full of positive energy, talk a lot, and love to get attention. They also have a great sense of humor – by telling jokes they try to lighten the mood and spread the positive energy among others. 

Expressives’ main strength is that they’re highly sociable. They’re very outgoing (just like Amiables), but are much more charismatic, persuasive, and ambitious. They enjoy the company of others and like to be surrounded by people since it’s a great opportunity to express how they feel and what they think. 

The weaknesses of Expressives may lie in their lack of organization – they’re often undisciplined, talkative and lose focus of their goals. All of their decisions are based on intuition, which in fact is very much prone to a change. 

Also, they get easily tangled up in a conflict. And once they do, they have a tendency to exaggerate the situation and let their vivid imagination speak. In this sense, they’re extremely emotional and let their feelings prevail. 

How to Recognize Expressives

  • Speak with confidence – they know what they want and will make sure you do too. Once they communicate their ideas, they will do whatever it takes to achieve the goal they have in mind. 
  • Responsive – if you fear the conversation with Expressives will be one-sided, you’re wrong. They enjoy talking and interacting with others since they crave attention and have an internal need to be accepted by others. 
  • Dreamy – though they’re responsive during the conversations, there will be times when their thoughts will casually fly away. That is because their attention span is too short and doesn’t allow them to concentrate on one thing for longer than a few minutes. 

How to Sell to Expressives?

  • Explain how they’ll benefit from your product or service  – focus on showing them some examples, e.g. case studies. Don’t present too much data – Expressives prefer real-life examples, visual aids, and personalized approach. 
  • Aim for a long-term partnership – just like Amiables, Expressives want to build a trusted partnership. Make sure to treat them like potential long-term partners rather than a one-time customer. Once they bond with someone, it’s harder to get rid of them. 
  • Speak based on your experience – these customers are sociable and value the opinion of others, so feel free to share your thoughts on what’s best for them. Often, they need a second opinion to make sure the final decision isn’t based on an error of judgment. 
  • Show social proof – since Expressives are highly interested in how their decision may impact others, they’re also easily convinced with solutions that worked for other customers. The more relatable the facts are, the bigger the chance of arousing their interest in products. 

How to Treat Expressives in Customer Service?

  • Let them blow the steam off – Expressives are full of energy, so don’t stop them from releasing it (especially when they’re angry). After they’re done, proceed with resolving the issue.
  • Be empathic – show them that their problem is your problem. Use statements like “I can understand how frustrating it is when…” to show them that you understand their emotions and that you want to help.
  • Prepare for a high level of energy – it’s just how Expressives are. Don’t misunderstand their steam, especially when you’re a lower-energy individual. 
  • Approach them friendly – it’s easy to form a connection with Expressives by mirroring their friendly attitude.

Conclusion: flexibility is the key

The crucial thing to keep in mind is that you’ll probably won’t meet a lot of customers that perfectly fit just one of the aforementioned groups – most of them will be a mix of different personality types.

The best strategy is to get to know these four core types of customers, recognize the client you’re dealing with, and then adjust your communication strategy.

Let’s grow your business together!

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Maria Pietruszewska

Marysia is a coffee lover and YouTube addict. After work, she binge-watches series on Netflix and cycles around the city. 2019 is the year when she enters the tech world to explore the secrets of chatbots and content marketing.

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