But if you catch a common cold and visit a doctor, they will be able to treat you even if they see you for the first time in their life. You are unique but your illness is quite typical.
The same is true about customers.
Even though they’re all unique individuals, you can identify several types of customers based on their patterns of behavior.
Why even bother?
To be like this doctor and treat each of them right.
In this article:
- Different types of customers
- How to approach each type
- Tips and advice from experts
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Before we move on, let’s address the elephant in the room:
How many types of customers are there? Why did we decide to go with 18 types?
Why not 4 types of customers or 7 types of consumers?
Well, the number is not written in stone and there are several types of classification.
One study may distinguish 5 types of customers with regard to the way customers complain. Another suggests a customer typology based on shopping needs and preferences. Some frameworks analyze the connection between purchase intention and brand attitude.
Based on the studies above, we get 5 types of consumer complainers (attitude-based), 6 relationship customer types (social and lifestyle factors), and 5 types of customers (brand experience-based).
The 5 types of customers from the first study are different from the 5 types mentioned in the last one. And these are just three papers…
Here’s the thing:
There is no scientific consensus on one fixed number of customer types. That’s why this article covers all popular types from different frameworks. It will give you an overview of the most useful findings and ways you can group your customers. Instead of academic theory, you get actionable tips.
Consumer vs Customer: What is the difference?
Consumers are the end-users of a given product or service while customers are the ones who buy it. Most of the time, the same person is both a customer and a consumer. But, for example, when a parent buys something for a child the roles change.
Here’s the full list of all customer types we cover:
- Impulse customers
- Need-based customers
- Looking-to-switch customers
- Unsure customers
- New customers
- Dissatisfied customers
- Active customers
- Churned customers
- Loyal customers
- Referral customers
- Latent customers
Even though the list is long, it’s by no means random. We’ve grouped different types of customers into three main categories.
Types 1–4: The first four customer types represent customers’ personalities.
Types 5–11: The second group includes customers who are in the pre-purchase phase.
They’re the customers who are at the very top of your sales funnel. They are aware of your business, and you’ll have to put some time and effort to convert them.
Types 12–18: The third group consists of customers who already bought from you. Your goal is not to convert but to keep them.
Let’s have a closer look at each customer type.
Drivers are the first type of customers based on personality. They’re also the most dynamic of all.
They’re decisive and don’t bother with the details. They tend not to analyze too much and prefer to make a decision fast, even if it’s a bad one. And they hate admitting that they’re wrong!
Their weaknesses are that they may have a low level of empathy. Drivers can be insensitive and harsh.
How to sell to the drivers:
- Be professional and keep it short. This customer type is goal-oriented—they value their time. And you should, too, by getting straight to the point.
- Show how you’ll help them achieve their goals. Don’t talk about your product for hours. Instead, show them what problems your business will solve and how they can benefit from it.
- Cut the 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. Don’t bother them with nonsense.
- Don’t push for a sale. The more you try to make the driver customer change their mind, the more irritated they’ll become.
This type of customer focuses on details a lot.
Analysts are often serious and tend to think quality over quantity. They also take their time making decisions and hate it when someone rushes them.
Their strength lies in attention to detail. Analysts see every small thing that other types of customers miss, even if it’s not relevant. They also have high standards, and they want stuff to be PERFECT!
Their biggest weakness is overanalyzing. Before the checkout, they will go through your pricing, reviews, and several landing pages. It could hold them back from making a decision. But once they make it, they’re unlikely to change it.
How to sell to the 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 convince them to buy.
- Expect a long sales process. Analytical customers are slow decision-makers. Give them some time to make up their minds. Also, get ready for advanced questions and do your best to answer them.
- Help them get off the details. The analytical customer type loves to analyze. They can focus on irrelevant information–if they do, help them to get back on track.
- Show both sides. For analysts to make the right decision means to know both sides of the story. So don’t spare the details, even if you find them irrelevant. Analytic customers value details and honesty.
The analysts tend to ask a lot of questions. If you want to make your life easier, arm your live chat with a series of canned responses to cover different chat scenarios.
Amiables are friendly and great at forming relationships with other people.
This type of customer likes to establish a personal connection before making a decision. Since they’re empathic, they’re also great listeners.
Amiables are good with people and easy to get along with. They also tend to avoid conflicts. Because of that, they may be unassertive and hold back.
How to sell to the amiables:
- Build a connection. Amiables seek relationships, so approach them with a friendly and warm attitude.
- Act as a personal advisor. This type of customer needs someone to help them with a decision process step-by-step. Be helpful and guide them through the decision-making process.
- Give them personal assurance. Amiables are not risk-taking individuals. You must assure them they can get a refund (when they’re not satisfied) to push them down the sales funnel.
Amiables love interacting with businesses. You should make sure that you welcome them and encourage them to write. Check out our sample welcome messages for customers that you can send to amiables.
The expressives are the emotional type of customers.
They are full of positive energy, talk a lot, and love to get attention.
The expressives’ main strength is being sociable. They’re outgoing, charismatic, persuasive, and ambitious.
They enjoy personal interaction and like to surround themselves with people. For them, it’s an excellent opportunity to express how they feel and think. If their customer experience was enjoyable, they are willing to pay a full price.
Their weakness is the lack of organization. The expressives are often undisciplined, talkative, and lose focus on their goals. They follow intuition when making purchase decisions which means they can easily change them.
How to sell to the expressives?
- Explain the benefits. Show real-life examples (e.g., case studies) but don’t present too much data. The expressives prefer visual aids and a personalized approach.
- Aim for a long-term partnership. The expressives want to build a trusted partnership. Treat them like potential long-term partners rather than a one-time buyer. Once they bond with someone, it’s hard to get rid of them.
- Speak from your experience. These types of customers value others’ opinions, so feel free to share your thoughts on what’s best for them. It will help them make sure they don’t base their final decision on an error of judgment.
- Show the social proof. The expressives care about how their decision may impact others. It means you can convince them with solutions that worked for other customers. Show relatable facts to increase the chances of interesting them in your products.
Meet the lookers. It’s the first type of customer who could become your buyer—if you manage to handle them well.
The lookers browse through your products/services but don’t intend to purchase anything yet.
They could be looking for the best deal, which means they checked your competitors as well. Very often they want to pay the lowest price for a very specific product.
Some of them might have landed in your shop for some inspiration. They more or less know what they want and hope to find the answer in your online store.
You need to catch the looker’s attention and convince them that YOU have the right solution to their problem.
How to sell to the lookers:
- Make your website attractive. You need compelling copy on your web or store pages, as well as a beautiful design. The goal is to guide the looker’s attention to the right places on your website and keep them engaged.
- Remove any obstacles. Pop-ups, ads, confusing navigation, or lack of quick customer support can make them look away.
- Be proactive. Proactive customer service means that you are the first one to reach out to your visitor to offer help. Some lookers may say “No, thank you,” while others will appreciate the help.
6. The Discount-Seekers
This customer type has an interest in your product only because you reduced its price. It’s quite unlikely that the discount-seekers would buy it at the regular price.
These customers are analytical and look for the best deals they can find. They are good researchers and could buy a product they didn’t plan for only because they found a bargain.
Discount-seekers can be tricky to approach. But you can convince them to stay with you if you handle them the right way.
How to sell to the discount-seekers:
- Explain your offer in detail. Discount-seekers would want to understand your offer and terms in detail. Help them understand that by buying from you, they are saving money and getting a real value. You can talk to them in real-time and boost conversions with live chat or chatbots.
- Segment and target. Discount-seekers love deals. They often look forward to special events like Black Friday or Christmas. You can segment and target them with personalized email campaigns to bring them to your store.
- Highlight the sale items. It will make it a lot easier for the visitors to spot them. You can often get the prospect’s attention with a discounted item first and then try to upsell it.
This type of customer has a strong analytical personality.
They compare products like the lookers and hunt for bargains like the discount-seekers. But, unlike any of them, the researchers focus on the value rather than price alone.
So for the researcher customer type, attractive websites or good discounts won’t work.
How to sell to the researchers:
- Highlight your credibility. You can earn the researchers’ trust with social proof (testimonials, reviews, case studies). Those customers will look into every detail to be sure they can trust your brand. So don’t skimp on product details, high-quality pictures, and customer reviews.
- Add technical details. The researchers would love to look into schematics, technical information, and white papers. You can also add feature comparisons to help them understand your offer better.
- Focus on product value. You need to convince the researchers that you’re offering something that no one else will give them.
A web chat will reassure the researchers that there is someone available to help them and provide more information.
8. Impulse Customers
Impulse customers can make a buying decision in an instant. And it doesn’t matter how much you will brag about the product benefits.
Customers acting on impulse don’t shop for anything specific. The bottom line? They are receptive to product recommendations. That’s why this type of customer is the best type to upsell and cross-sell to.
Impulse customers are one of the most valuable segments that bring in the revenue.
How to sell to the impulse customers:
- Clear the way. Get rid of any distraction this type of customer may face. You must ensure you’re not wasting that buying impulse when it strikes! Reducing the steps required to place an order will also help.
- Stay in touch. Email marketing campaigns will keep the impulse customer type in the loop on your new product offers. This approach will improve your company’s profitability in the long run.
- Add some urgency. Time-bound offers work best with Impulse buyers.
Suggested reading: How to Make a Newsletter: Start to Create Online Campaigns Now
9. Need-Based Customers
The need-based customers are driven by a specific… need—you guessed it right. They land in online stores, get what they look for, and leave—nothing beyond that. That’s why they’re hard to upsell to.
Plus, they can easily switch to other businesses, making them hard to keep.
How to sell to the need-based customers:
- Build a personal connection. Start with a positive personal communication to build strong customer relationships. The need-based customers want to be sure you’ll be there to help them whenever they need it.
10. Looking-to-Switch Customers
The looking-to-switch customer type consists of those who have been using a service like yours but aren’t happy with it. That’s why they are looking at you as an alternative business they can switch to.
The odds are in your favor with this type of customer because they are ready to spend. All you have to do is to nudge them to follow in your direction.
How to sell to the looking-to-switch customers:
- Do your research. This time you are the one who will be doing the competition research. You must identify what looking-to-switch customers expect from you. It means that you must discover what your competition lacks but you can give. When you figure it out, emphasize the features you have but others don’t.
- Highlight your USP and value proposition. Let your potential customers know what makes you a better choice. Find out what they need and look for and offer your services as a solution to them.
11. Unsure Customers
Among all the types of customers, the unsure customers are the least decided on what they want to buy. They are like the lookers but more confused and unsure about what to do.
How to sell to the unsure customers:
- Offer different types of customer service. Make it easy for the unsure customers to reach you. Tools like chatbots and live chat allow for fast support at any stage of the buyer’s journey.
- Focus on your value proposition and support. Present unique solutions, provide amazing customer service and guide them through every step. This way, the unsure customers can grow confident that your company is the right choice.
12. New Customers
New customers are the first type of customers that we call the after-the-purchase type.
A new customer is a person who bought something from you for the first time. They are still learning how to use your product or service.
Your task is to help them as much as possible to learn how to use your product and understand its value.
Your support will make a lasting first impression that will strengthen or break your relationship with the New Customer.
How to approach New Customers:
- Be part of their success. You can earn a loyal customer by explaining how your product works. You’ll also have to make sure the customer knows how to use it. Try educational resources such as onboarding emails, videos, tutorials, or blog posts.
- Allow for contact. Live customer service will allow customers to easily ask about anything.
- Appreciate and build relationships. Customers often leave brands when they feel unappreciated. So show that you remember with email nurturing campaigns. Then, continue educating the customers with email newsletters. When they’re back to your store, greet them, and thank them at every turn. Customers who feel valued will be back for more.
13. Dissatisfied Customers
Some customer types can be difficult to deal with and often impossible to please. No one can make everybody happy. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your best.
Your customers can forgive you a lot but they will not tolerate negligence or being ignored.
But there’s a bright side of the dissatisfied customers: they’re an invaluable source of feedback. When they complain, they reveal the issues you must immediately fix.
How to approach dissatisfied customers:
- Be quick to react. Bad reviews spread fast and deter potential customers. First, look into the matter to truly understand the complaint. Then, respond, apologize, and offer a solution. If you handle it well, you can turn a dissatisfied customer into a loyal one.
- Listen. Dissatisfied customers want you to hear them out, even if you cannot help them. So hear them out, never ignore.
- Be up to date. Observe your customer service channels and social media. It will help you identify unhappy customers before it is too late.
14. Active Customers
Active customers use your products or services, but they’re not your loyal customers yet.
They might become loyal or leave for another brand if they get a better deal with your competitors.
That’s why it’s crucial to nurture them instead of taking their loyalty for granted.
How to approach active customers:
- Deliver impeccable customer service. Customer care is the key to success. You need to continue engaging and interacting with your customers. Your goal is to make them feel confident about your caring for them. Treat them like VIPs, and they’ll be back for more.
- Help customers achieve success. Your customers use your products to achieve their goals. If they notice that you take that extra mile to help them succeed, they will stay with you for a long time. Their success is your success.
15. Churned Customers
Sometimes things go wrong, and receiving a customer complaint is the best that could happen. But in most cases, active or new customers churn (leave your business).
There’s still hope, and you can win this type of customer back.
You need to be proactive and quick to identify these customers as soon as possible. Otherwise, it could be too late to bring them back to your business.
How to approach churned customers:
- Investigate the cause. Segment your churned customers and find out why they left. Did they have any customer service complaints? Did they get any better deals with your competition? Was it about the price?
- Fix the issue. Try to make up whatever caused your customers to leave. Then, reach out to them and let them know that you’ve handled the source of their dissatisfaction. By doing so, you have a fair chance of getting them back.
16. Loyal Customers
Loyal customers are hands-down your best customer segment. They produce most of your revenue with repeat orders and by referring your brand to others.
The representatives of this customer type can also become your advocates and strengthen your brand awareness and trust.
You may want to find out what makes them stay with you so that you can continue delivering the best experience.
How to approach loyal customers:
- Put them in the spotlight. Feature your loyal customers in your case studies, get their testimonials or reviews. Such an act will make them feel appreciated. If you run a B2B business, such exposure will help your customers reach a wider audience with their brand. And you will build your brand credibility. It’s a win-win situation.
- Learn from their success. Connect with your customers and learn how your product helped them become successful. Use their experiences and try to replicate the same for all your other customers.
- Give them something in return. Not every loyal customer will be willing to refer you just like that. But you can encourage them to do so with some incentives.
17. Referral Customers
Referral customers come from your loyal customers’ referrals.
Some of them will have no issues with using your services. Others will be completely lost at getting started using your services—so, you’ll have to help them.
It’s your chance to shine and give this customer type the best experience they can get.
How to approach referral customers:
- Plan your onboarding. Consider tailoring your onboarding process for those new customers you acquired through referrals. Give them all the support they might need to succeed.
- Reach out and understand. Referral Customers have chosen you because they’ve heard you could help them. You should get in touch with them and ask about their expectations from you.
18. Latent Customers
Latent customers are the ones who stopped using your product for many reasons. They could’ve lost their interest or switched to your competitors. Perhaps their goals have changed, so they no longer need your solution.
Or, they experienced poor service at some point but never told you about it.
You can identify this type of customer through specific behavior. Typically, they don’t click through your emails or haven’t used your services for a long while. If you don’t activate and recover them, latent customers will become churned customers.
How to approach the latent customers:
- Reach out. Get in touch with your latent customers to find out why they haven’t been using your services lately. If they have experienced any issues, fix them, and apologize. You can reach out to them with personal emails as part of your re-engagement email campaign.
Different Types of Customers: Summary
No customer is the same. That goes without saying. They differ on many levels. But identifying and getting to know them will help you convert and keep them happy.
It is unlikely you’ll meet customers who perfectly fit a single type of customer. Most of them will be a mix of different types.
Here’s a quick roundup of things remember about types of customers:
- Customers have different personal characteristics that determine how you should support and sell to them.
- You can distinguish various customer segments based on the buyer’s journey.
- Each customer who lands on your website or in your store has their own needs and goals. Discover them and tailor your communication and support to win the customers’ hearts.
And finally, personalization, world-class customer service, clear product value, and laser focus on your customer success—these are the top factors that will keep your customers satisfied and loyal.